MELBOURNE: Police questioned four fans at the Australian Open tennis on Wednesday after they unfurled Russian flags, including one featuring Vladimir Putin’s face, and threatened security staff, reports said.
The fans had attended Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev’s quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park, The Age and Herald Sun newspapers said.
The incident happened on stairs outside the centre court, Rod Laver Arena, where Rublev was defeated 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards,” a spokesperson for organisers Tennis Australia told the newspapers.
“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.”
AFP has contacted Tennis Australia for comment.
Footage posted online showed at least one man on some steps holding a Russian flag with President Putin’s face on it.
Spectators are banned from having Russian or Belarusian flags at the Grand Slam after Ukraine’s ambassador demanded action when they were seen among the crowd last week.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players have normally competed under a neutral white flag as independents, as is the case at the Australian Open.–AFP
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