Home Sports Australian Open, “Z” pro Putin in the stands: it’s immediately controversial

Australian Open, “Z” pro Putin in the stands: it’s immediately controversial

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Australian Open, “Z” pro Putin in the stands: it’s immediately controversial

In the stands, for the Djokovic-Rublev match, fans with symbols in theory banned. The Ukrainian Dolgopolov is ironic, the organizers are embarrassed

Despite all the bans and all the precautions on flags and political symbols, in a dramatically delicate moment for the world, T-shirts with the “Z” symbol and posters praising Vladimir Putin arrive in Melbourne Park, the setting for the Australian Open. It was what the organizers feared, and in the end it could not be avoided.

During the match between the Serbian Novak Djokovic and the Russian Andrey Rublev (representatives of two historically friendly and supportive countries), a fan was seen in the stands of the Rod Laver Arena wearing a shirt with a huge Z, a symbol of ultra-nationalist reverence for the president Putin, in front of many fans with the flag of Serbia. Obviously, this was one of the “forbidden” items to be introduced in the grandstand and inside the Australian Open facility, so evidently the security checks didn’t work properly.

Ukrainian tennis player Alex Dolgopolov immediately wanted an explanation, tweeting a “Obviously the viewer will be banned for life, right?”. Also on social networks there are many videos of Serbian fans celebrating by wearing Putin’s face shirts, with songs and dances praising the Russian leader, all in front of the Red Laver Arena. Outrage throughout Australia and beyond, with the organizers having to give more than one explanation as to how all this could have happened, after days of trying to avoid any reference to politics.

The issue of Russian flags being flown at the tournament first came to light last week when a fan hung up a Russian flag during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Tennis Australia had responded to the incident by immediately banning the display of the Russian and Belarusian flags, as players from those countries must compete as neutral players “without flags or recognition of the country”.

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