AO: Four arrested after provocative Vladimir Putin support, threats to security team

A provocative political statement was made at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

by Dzevad Mesic
AO: Four arrested after provocative Vladimir Putin support, threats to security team

Four Australian Open spectators were arrested after threatening security guards, including the one who flashed a flag with Vladimir Putin's face on it. During the Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev Australian Open match, one spectator was pictured wearing Russia's ultra-nationalist "Z" war symbol on his shirt.

After the match, a group of people was filmed chanting "Serbia, Russia" simultaneously. Also, there was one person who wore the Z shirt and flashed a flag with Putin's face. In Tennis Australia's statement revealed on The Age, four from that group threatened security guards and the Victoria Police was called to intervene.

“Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards. Victoria Police intervened and are continuing to question them. The comfort and safety of everyone is our priority and we work closely with security and authorities," a Tennis Australia spokesperson said.

Bringing the Russian flag to Melbourne Park is prohibited

At the start of the Australian Open, there were spectators who decided to bring the Russian flag.

That didn't sit well with some politicians, who called on Tennis Australia to take action. Tennis Australia reacted and banned the Russian flags on-site. “Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open.

Our initial policy was that fans could bring them in but could not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside. The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis," a statement read.

Last year, Wimbledon was the only tournament that didn't allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete due to the situation in Ukraine. The remaining three Grand Slams didn't want to go that route but every Grand Slam underlined that showing support to Russia or Putin is prohibited.

Melbourne Park