Novak Djokovic defiant despite warning not to repeat political message


Novak Djokovic has insisted that he would not hesitate to opine on Kosovo and the clashes between Kosovo authorities and ethnic Serbs again, even as the backlash to his comments continues to grow.

“I don’t mind saying that. I mean, I would say it again,” Djokovic said. “But I don’t need to because you have my quotes if you want to reflect on that. Of course I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for.”

On Wednesday night Djokovic defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach the third round of the French Open, where he will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

Djokovic then said he had no more comments to make on the subject.

After his second-round match on Monday, Djokovic signed the camera “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence”, referencing the violent clashes that have taken place in Northern provinces of Kosovo between Kosovo authorities and ethnic Serbs that form the majority in the north. Djokovic then spoke expansively about the subject in Serbian.

Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the French sport minister, said on Wednesday that Djokovic’s comments were “not appropriate” for an athlete. “When you carry messages about defending human rights, messages that bring people together around universal values, a sportsperson is free to express them,” Oudéa-Castéra told France 2. “But in this case it was a message that is very activist, that is very political. You shouldn’t get involved, especially in the current circumstances, and it shouldn’t happen again.”

The Kosovo Olympic Committee has requested that the International Olympic Committee open up disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic as its president accused him of promoting Serbian nationalist propaganda.

“Novak Djokovic has yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists’ propaganda and used the sport platform to do so,” Ismet Krasniqi, the president of Kosovo’s Olympic Committee, said in a statement.

The grand slam rulebook contains no rule against players speaking about political subjects during grand slam events, meaning he will not receive any punishment from tennis authorities.