Australian Open: Four spectators questioned after Russia flags waved

Four spectators at the Australian Open have been questioned by police after Russian flags were waved and security guards allegedly threatened.

Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned by the tournament.

But Russian flags – including one with president Vladimir Putin’s face on it – were seen at Melbourne Park.

Police intervened after Russian Andrey Rublev’s defeat against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, said a statement from tournament organisers.

Australian Open: Four spectators questioned after Russia flags waved
Russian flags have been banned at the Australian Open

A fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the letter ‘Z’ – a pro-war symbol of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Photographs show the man being spoken to by an Australian Open official on Rod Laver Arena.

“Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards,” Tennis Australia, which runs the tournament, said in a statement.

“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.”

Australian Open: Four spectators questioned after Russia flags waved
An Australian Open official speaks to a man wearing a t-shirt with a ‘Z’ symbol

Russian and Belarusian athletes have not been able to play under their countries’ flags in several sports, including tennis, since the invasion of Ukraine began in February last year.

While players from the two countries are competing under a neutral white flag during the Australian Open, they were banned from playing at Wimbledon altogether in 2022.

Spectators at the Australian Open were initially permitted to bring Russian and Belarusian flags into Melbourne Park on the condition they did not cause “disruption”.

But the organisers reversed that decision last week after fans displayed a Russian flag during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.

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