The Serbian tennis pro Novak Djokovic caused international unrest with his political statements about his homeland. The big sports associations are holding back. The Serb has not yet faced a penalty.
Tennis pro Novak Djokovic is in touch also always speaking on political issues
After his second-round win at the French Open in Paris against Hungary's Marton Fucsovic (7: 6; 6: 0; 6: 3) late on Wednesday evening, tennis pro Novak Djokoivic was beaming as if nothing had happened. Even when the subject came up, with which the Serb caused great political unrest, his friendly expression didn't change. “I don't mind saying that. I would do it again. Of course I'm aware that a lot of people have different opinions, but that's the way it is,” said the 36-year-old in Referring to his sentences two days earlier.
What happened? The Serb had left his sporting world and went onto the political stage – and thus caused trouble. After his first round win against the American Aleksandar Kovacevic, Djokovic wrote “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop violence!” on the lens of a TV camera. The tennis pro had stated that “as a public figure” he felt obliged to “show support for our people and all of Serbia”.
No further comments from Djokovic
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera then spoke up and criticized Novak Djokovic's political message as “inappropriate”. At the same time, she issued a warning to the Serbian tennis star. “When it comes to defending human rights and bringing people together around universal values, every athlete can do it,” she said on TV channel France 2. However, Djokovic's message was “militant, very political” and was must not be repeated. Djokovic himself held back on Wednesday. “I don't want to say anything more, I've said everything that's necessary,” added Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic relaxed after second-round win at French Open
The background to Djokovic's action is the recent unrest in the Serbian-dominated north of Kosovo. Militant Serbs had protested against the appointment of new mayors in Zvecan and other municipalities. 30 soldiers of the NATO-led Kosovo Protection Force KFOR were injured. According to a hospital in Mitrovica, 53 Serbs were also injured. Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, declared its independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize the statehood of its former province and demands its return.
IOC called to action
Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo spoke to Djokovic and his team and pointed out the principles of “neutrality”, reported Minister of Sport Oudea-Castera. The organizers left open whether there would be any concrete consequences for the campaign and only pointed out in a general statement that the same rules would apply to all Grand Slam tournaments.
The national The Kosovo Olympic Committee called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to demand that the world association ITF investigate the incident and initiate disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic. The IOC was asked to comment.
ITF does not want to react
The ITF has not opened any disciplinary proceedings. Its President David Haggerty told the AP on Wednesday morning that man received a letter from Kosovo, answered it and forwarded it to the French organizer of the Grand Slam tournament and the men's organization ATP. “You make the rules for this event.” And the ITF President added that athletes need to be careful about their political views. “We're talking about sports and politics and we need to keep that separate.”