— Published 27 January 2023

Ukraine calls for exclusion of Novak Djokovic’s father

The controversy is growing at the Australian Open tennis tournament. The Ukrainian ambassador in Canberra officially requested on Friday 27 January that the organisers withdraw the accreditation of Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic. The reason: a video published on social networks the day before in which he is seen in the company of supporters brandishing pro-Russian flags (photo above). Ukrainian diplomat Vasyl Myroshnychenko said the Serbian player should also apologise for his father’s attitude. “It is important that Novak addresses this situation,” he said, quoted by AFP. He should apologise for what happened and condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The video, posted on a pro-Russian Australian YouTube account, shows Djokovic posing outside the stadium with a man holding a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin’s face. It is accompanied by the caption: “Novak Djokovic’s father makes a bold political statement“. The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia had already taken an official position since the beginning of the tournament, asking the organisers to ban Russian and Belarusian flags from the stands. The Russian embassy in Canberra reacted immediately by calling the move “another example of the unacceptable politicisation of sport“. The Australian Tennis Federation (Tennis Australia), the organiser of the tournament, reiterated this in a statement after the video was published: “The players and their teams have been informed and reminded of the event’s policy regarding flags and symbols and that they should avoid any situation that could disrupt the tournament. We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement”. But she did not directly mention the Djokovic case.