Australian Open chief tells Djokovic family: 'Be really careful'

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The parents of Novak Djokovic, father Srdjan Djokovic (L) and mother Dijana Djokovic. (Photo by David Gray/AFP)
The parents of Novak Djokovic, father Srdjan Djokovic (L) and mother Dijana Djokovic. (Photo by David Gray/AFP)

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley on Saturday advised Novak Djokovic's family to be "really careful" of people using the tournament's global exposure as a platform for "disruptive" purposes. 

It follows a video posted on a pro-Russian YouTube account showing Djokovic's father, Srdjan, posing in Melbourne Park with a fan holding a Russian flag that featured the face of Vladimir Putin. 

It sparked a backlash from Ukraine and led to calls for Djokovic senior to be banned from the tournament. 

He decided to skip his son's semi-final victory on Friday, and it remains to be seen if he will be at Sunday's final. 

Tiley told the Melbourne Age newspaper he had spent "a fair amount of time talking to the Djokovic family". 

"My advice is that you have to be really careful because if this is an event of global significance, it's a platform," he said he told them. 

"When you have hundreds of thousands of people come through the gate, you're going to naturally have some people that are coming here with an intention to be disruptive and don't get yourself caught in the middle of that. 

"And they completely understand that," he added. "The family were very good. They were upset that it was taken that way. There was no intention of it. 

"His dad particularly does not support war, and they're very focused on supporting peace." 

Serbian star Djokovic insisted after his semi-final win there had been a "misinterpretation" of the images and that his father had "no intention whatsoever to support any war initiatives". 

He said his father had been greeting fans outside Rod Laver Arena after every match and had been "misused" on Wednesday night. 

Tiley said the Open had more than 1 000 accredited journalists and growing TV audiences, and "it does become a platform, and that's new for us. It never used to be like that". 

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, Russian and Belarusian players have normally competed under a neutral white flag as independents, as is the case at the Australian Open. 

Spectators have been banned from having Russian or Belarusian flags at the Grand Slam after Ukraine's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand demanded action when they were seen among the crowd early in the tournament. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
loading... Live
South Africa 367/8
Netherlands 0
Voting Booth
Is the decision to give Aiden Markram the Proteas T20 captaincy the right one?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes! Markram is a natural leader
70% - 736 votes
No! He should have been left to focus on his batting
9% - 90 votes
I'm not sure yet. Let's see what results he brings.
22% - 230 votes
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.