Australian Open Evicts Pro-Russia Demonstrators

Banned flag, Putin's image and a 'Z' disrupt event
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2023 7:25 PM CST
Australian Open Evicts Pro-Russia Demonstrators
A Russian flag is seen during the first round match between Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia and Kateryna Baindl of Ukraine last week at the Australian Open.   (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

Four people were detained, questioned, and evicted Wednesday after the Australian Open was disrupted by pro-Russia chants and displays. The demonstrators displayed a Russian flag bearing an image of Vladimir Putin, and a spectator took off a shirt during play to reveal a T-shirt underneath bearing a white "Z"—a symbol of support for the invasion of Ukraine. The spectator was in the stands for the men's quarterfinal match between Serbian Novak Djokovic and Russian Andrey Rublev. Photos appeared to show Djokovic unknowingly signing an autograph for the man after his victory, per the Telegraph. A Russian flag was displayed last week during a match, but this seems to be the first appearance of "Z" at the tournament.

In addition, a group of spectators waved flags and chanted, "Serbia, Russia" outside the stadium in Melbourne after the match, per Fox Sports. A statement by the tournament said, “Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards." The Open has prohibited spectators from carrying Russian or Belarusian flags, wearing Putin's Z symbol, or expressing pro-Russian songs or chants, a decision the Russian Embassy said is "another example of unacceptable politization of sports." Wimbledon was among the sporting events that last year barred Russian and Belarusian competitors, after Russia invaded Ukraine. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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