Novak Djokovic comments on his political message at the French Open for the first time after public criticism. The Serbian tennis star stands by his opinion.
Novak Djokovic has reiterated his criticized political message at the French Open. “I would say it again,” said the Serbian tennis star after entering the third round of the classic clay court in Paris.
“Obviously I’m aware that a lot of people don’t agree with me, but it is what it is. That’s something I stand for.” After beating the American Aleksandar Kovacevic in the first round, the 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner wrote on the lens of a TV camera: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence!” He then declared that “as a public figure” he felt obliged “to show support for our people and for all of Serbia”.
After the 7: 6 (7: 2), 6: 0, 6: 3 against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, he now said: “A Grand Slam without drama, I don’t think there will be for me. I think that’s driving me too.” He did not want to comment on any further questions.
Criticism: Message “militant, very political”
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera had criticized Djokovic’s political message as “inappropriate” and issued a warning to him. “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 shouldn’t be repeated.
Djokovic does not face any sanctions at the French Open. In a statement, the world tennis association ITF referred to the rules at Grand Slam tournaments. “There is no provision in it that prohibits political statements,” the ITF told the German Press Agency. The Kosovan association had complained in a letter about Serb Djokovic’s action. The letter was forwarded to the Grand Slam organizers, the ITF said.
Unrest in northern Kosovo
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. In addition, according to a hospital in Mitrovica, 53 Serbs were 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.
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