Police in Victoria have detained four spectators for questioning at the Australian Open after they discovered Russian flags emblazoned with Vladimir Putin’s face.
Police in Victoria detained four spectators for questioning at the Australian Open after they unfurled Russian flags emblazoned with Vladimir Putin during the tournament on Wednesday.
The alleged incident happened shortly after the Russia incident Andrei Rublev defeated Novak Djokovic in the men’s quarterfinals.
Although Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to participate in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, there are strict rules regarding their participation;
They cannot compete as representatives of their countries, so they are classified as independent neutrals, and their supporters are prohibited from carrying flags or Putin’s Z symbol or chanting pro-Russian songs.
But authorities were forced to act after a Russian flag was spotted in the crowd last week, and now police have been called after a second nasty incident.
“Four people found inappropriate flags and symbols in the crowd leaving the stadium and threatened security,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“Victoria Police have intervened and are continuing to question them.
“Everyone’s comfort and safety is our priority and we are working closely with security and authorities.”
Djokovic, who has complained to officials about a number of spectators over the past week, spoke to the podium umpire during the match against Rublev when he was angered by some comments made by Russian fans at Rod Laver Arena.
“If someone crosses the line and starts making comments that have nothing to do with supporting the other player, they just want to provoke and insult, then crossing the line is what I’m responding to,” Djokovic said.
“Maybe not the first time, the second time, but after that, yes. Then I ask the chair judge to respond.
“After that, I listened to him, but he was defending Rublev. He didn’t make any bad comments until the end of the meeting, so I had no complaints after that.”
The issue of Russian flags at the tournament has heated up and will only get hotter as the finals begin with Russian players competing for both the men’s and women’s titles.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia has called on tennis officials to take action after a Russian flag appeared in the crowd at the Australian Open.
The Russian Embassy has responded to Australia’s tennis flag ban, calling it “another example of the unacceptable politicization of sport”.