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At the French Open, Novak Djokovic defends his views towards Kosovo

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CNN —
Tennis prodigy Novak Djokovic from Serbia has maintained his right to use the French Open to make a political statement regarding Kosovo.

Kosovo is the [heart symbol] of Serbia, Djokovic wrote after winning the first round on Monday. In response to bloody fighting in Kosovo, a TV camera lens flashed “Stop the violence.”

Kosovo, which separated from Serbia in 2008, has seen tensions increase over the past week. On Monday, there were fights with protesters against the election of mayors who are ethnic Albanian.

After skirmishes broke out with Serbian protesters attempting to prevent the newly elected mayors from taking office in the northern town of Zvecan, dozens of NATO forces were hurt.

According to Djokovic, whose father was born in Kosovo, he felt compelled to “give my support to our people and to the entirety of Serbia.”

His use of the phrase “entirety of Serbia” matches the Serbian government’s position, which continues to view Kosovo as a part of its territory and has not declared the region independent.

Earlier this week, CNN inquired with Djokovic’s agent about his position on Kosovo joining Serbia but did not receive a comment.

After beating Hungary’s Márton Fucsovics in the second round on Wednesday, Djokovic remarked, “Of course, I’m aware that many people would disagree, but it is what it is. This is something I support. That’s all, then.

He stated that he had not discussed the situation with Amélie Mauresmo, the director of the French Open competition, yet.

The Kosovan Olympic Committee (KOC) requested on Tuesday that Djokovic face consequences from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 22-time grand slam champion, according to the Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC), “yet again promoted the Serbian nationalist propaganda and used the sport platform to do so,” increasing “the level of tension and violence between the two countries, Kosovo and Serbia.”

The ITF clarified that there is “no provision… that prohibits political statements” in the grand slam code of the relevant organizer, which governs players’ behavior at a grand slam.

Athletes are only subject to the IOC’s control during the Olympic Games, according to the IOC.

Grand slam competitions are nothing new to Djokovic when it comes to controversy. After being captured on camera with a group of Russian fans at the Australian Open, he claimed that his father, Srdjan, didn’t mean to support “any kind of war initiatives.”

After coming in Melbourne without a Covid-19 vaccination, the 36-year-old was deported from the country during the 2022 Australian Open.

He stated on Wednesday, “A drama-free grand slam, I don’t think that can happen for me. That probably also irritates me, you know.”

On Friday, Djokovic will play Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain in the third round of the French Open in an effort to surpass Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major slam victories.

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