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Olympic committee says Djokovic fueling Serbia-Kosovo tensions

The committee says Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic inflamed the conflict between the two countries with comments he made at the French Open.
Olympic committee says Djokovic fueling Serbia-Kosovo tensions
Posted at 5:01 AM, May 31, 2023

The Kosovo Olympic Committee says tennis star Novak Djokovic “promoted the Serbian nationalists' propaganda” by writing “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, stop the violence” on a camera at the French Open. 

Kosovo National Olympic Committee President Ismet Krasniqi sent the letter on Tuesday to the International Olympic Committee. In the letter, Krasniqi requested the IOC investigate the matter and open disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic. 

Djokovic’s message comes as tensions between Kosovo and Serbia are on the rise. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized Kosovo’s autonomy. 

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned attacks against NATO-led Kosovo Force peacekeepers. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that 700 additional peacekeepers would be sent to Kosovo. 

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Krasniqi claimed that Djokovic’s comment directly results in “raising the level of tension and violence between the two countries.”

“What happened at the French Open must be perceived as a violation of sport principles and the Olympic spirit and as a breach of the Olympic charter,” Krasniqi said. “Regardless of the fact that Novak Djokovic is one of the best tennis players in the world, such reiterated behavior cannot be tolerated as it sets a dangerous precedent that sport can be used as a platform for political messages, agenda and propaganda.”

His message also drew the ire of Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, France’s minister for Sport and the Olympic & Paralympic Games. 

"It must not happen again,” she said in an interview on French TV.

Djokovic has represented Serbia at the last four Summer Olympics. Despite being one of the most accomplished tennis players in history, he has never won a gold medal at the Olympics. Despite this, he would likely enter the 2024 Olympics as the favorite to win the gold in the singles event. 

After easily winning his first match at the French Open, he is scheduled to face Márton Fucsovics in the second round on Wednesday.

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