The KOC has requested that the IOC and ITF take measures to discipline Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.
On Monday, Djokovic made a political statement at the French Open by writing “Kosovo is the [heart symbol] of Serbia. Stop the violence” in Serbian on a TV camera lens. This was in response to recent violent clashes in Kosovo.
Ismet Krasniqi, President of the KOC, wrote a letter to the IOC expressing concern over Djokovic’s message, stating that it goes against the IOC’s principle of political neutrality and violates the idea of keeping politics out of sport.
CNN has contacted Djokovic’s representatives for a statement.
The KOC accused Djokovic of promoting Serbian nationalist propaganda through the use of sports, which has led to an increase in tension and violence between Kosovo and Serbia.
In the last week, there has been increasing tension in Kosovo, a country that declared independence from Serbia in 2008. On Monday, there were confrontations between protestors and the newly elected Albanian mayors in northern Kosovo, an area predominantly inhabited by Kosovo Serbs. These elections, held in April, were boycotted by the Kosovo Serb population.
In a recent press conference, Djokovic further discussed his statement in Serbian, stating, “This was the minimum I could do. As a public figure, regardless of my field, I feel a responsibility to offer support.”
Having a father who hails from Kosovo, I strongly feel the urge to show my solidarity towards our people and Serbia as a whole. The future of Kosovo and the Serbian community remains uncertain, but it is crucial to express our support and stand united during these challenging times.
Djokovic’s reference to the “entirety of Serbia” reflects the policy of the Serbian government, which still considers Kosovo to be an integral part of its territory and has not recognized the country’s independence.
Krasniqi cautioned that failure to address Djokovic’s actions would establish a risky precedent of using sport as a means for sharing political messages.
He suggested that the IOC should take action within its guidelines and ask the ITF to adhere to the principles outlined in the Olympic Charter. He also called for an investigation into the matter and for disciplinary proceedings to be opened against the athlete.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) spokesperson has confirmed receipt of a letter from the Kosovo Tennis Federation, which has been passed on to the appropriate Grand Slam governing body.
The regulations for how players should behave at a Grand Slam tournament are determined by the official rulebook, which is overseen by the appropriate organizer and governing body. There is nothing in these regulations that forbids players from making political statements.
According to the IOC, the French Open is overseen by the appropriate governing body for grand slam tournaments and follows their regulations.
The statement indicated that the players are only under the jurisdiction of the IOC during the Olympic Games.
On Wednesday, Djokovic will compete in the second round of the French Open against Márton Fucsovics from Hungary.
Reporting was contributed to by George Ramsay and Sammy Mncwabe from CNN.