Novak Djokovic: Kosovo Olympic Committee calls for investigation ...

1 Jun 2023

Kosovo's Olympic Committee has urged authorities to open disciplinary proceedings against Novak Djokovic over his controversial message about the country.

The Serbian player wrote "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" on the camera after his first-round victory at the French Open.

He later told a news conference it is "very painful for me as a Serb to see what is happening in Kosovo and the way our people are practically driven out from the municipalities".

Read more: Why have tensions flared up between Serbia and Kosovo?

Djokovic has been accused of fuelling tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the centuries-old discord between the two sides.

Ismet Krasniqi, the president of Kosovo's Olympic Committee, said: "Djokovic has yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists' propaganda and used the sport platform to do so."

"The further post-match statements made by such a public figure without any feeling of remorse directly result in raising the level of tension and violence between the two countries."

Meanwhile, the French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Djokovic's message was "not appropriate", although the International Tennis Federation which governs the game globally said the world number three had not violated any rule.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion said after winning his second-round match at Roland Garros that he was driven by drama.

Referring to his statement on Kosovo, he said: "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. So that's all.

"Drama-free grand slam, I don't think it can happen for me. I guess that drives me, as well."

Djokovic, whose father was born in Kosovo, declined to confirm whether French Open director Amelie Mauresmo had discussed the matter with him, saying: "I have no more comment on that. I said what I needed to say."

He told Serbian media he would do it again but, after beating Hungary's Marton Fucsovics, he opted just for a signature and smiley face.

Members of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stand guard in Leposavic, Kosovo

He is not expected to face any sanction from the tournament because players are not prohibited from making political statements.

Djokovic missed last year's Australian Open and was deported from the country because he was unvaccinated for COVID.

People walk past Italian members of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), who are standing guard, in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 1, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

Image: People walk past Italian members of the NATO-led Kosovo Force

He won the Melbourne title this year despite a row that erupted after his father posed with some fans holding Russian flags.

Kosovo has seen increased tensions in recent months, particularly after disputed local elections in April.

The majority-Serb population boycotted the vote as they still want to be reunited with Belgrade.

This left only ethnic Albanians and other small minorities elected to mayoral and assembly posts.

When those elected attempted to take office last week, Serbs protested in front of municipal buildings to stop them getting in.

Some of the Serbian population clashed with NATO peacekeepers and the local police in the weeks since, who used tear gas.

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