MELBOURNE ( Associated Press) – Four people have been expelled from the Australian Open after displaying banned Russian flags at a Melbourne park and threatening security guards, police and tournament organisers.
A Victoria State Police spokeswoman said none of the four men would face charges. However, all of them were expelled from the competition venue.
Flags, at least one of which featured an effigy of President Vladimir Putin, were waved during a rally outside Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday after Novak Djokovic defeated Andrey Rublev of Russia in straight sets to reach the semi-finals of the first Grand Slam tournament. had entered. The year.
“A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols after a game on Wednesday and threatened security guards, for which they were ejected … The players and their teams are urged to avoid any situation The event policy on flags and symbols was informed and reminded that this has the potential to cause disturbances,” Tennis Australia, the event’s organizing body, said in a statement.
“We continue to work closely with law enforcement and security agencies.”
On 17 January, the second day of the Australian Open, the display of Russian and Belarusian flags at Melbourne Park was banned, a day after some were hoisted in the stands by spectators.
It is normally possible for flags to be displayed during matches in Australia. However, organizers reversed that policy for both countries involved in the invasion of Ukraine, which began nearly a year earlier, saying the flags were tampered with.
Last year, Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from participating in various events, including World Cup qualifiers for soccer as well as the Wimbledon tennis tournament, because of the war in Ukraine.
Russia invaded that country in February with the help of Belarus.
Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been allowed to play in the Australian, French and US Opens, but as “neutral” athletes, so their nationalities are not recognized on the official event calendar or results.
The flags of the countries in question are not shown on the TV graphics.
At the tournament, two Belarusians—Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka—and one Russian—Karen Khachanov—reached the singles semifinals.