Kosovo’s top Olympic body said on Wednesday it had asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to open disciplinary proceedings against Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic over his public statements on clashes in the country.
On Monday, after confrontations began between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, Djokovic scrawled the message “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence” on a camera following his victory in the opening round of Roland Garros.
A Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC) spokesman told AFP on Wednesday that Djokovic was “stirring up” political tensions.
Djokovic “breached the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter regarding political neutrality and involved yet another political statement in sports”, the KOC wrote in a letter sent to the IOC on Tuesday.
KOC head Ismet Krasniqi asked the IOC to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic, an Olympic bronze medallist in 2008, said the letter posted on its Facebook page.
Such “behaviour cannot be tolerated as it sets a dangerous precedent that sports can be used as a platform for political messages, agendas and propaganda”, the letter quoted Krasniqi as saying.
Djokovic defended his message in comments to Serb media, saying that Kosovo is Serbia’s “cradle, our stronghold”.
Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body of the sport, said they had received a request from the Kosovo Tennis Federation that Djokovic be sanctioned.
However, they pointed out that “political statements” are not banned at Grand Slam events.
Thirty peacekeepers from a Nato-led force in Kosovo and over 50 demonstrators were injured in clashes during protests about the installation of ethnic Albanian mayors in northern Kosovo.
The situation remained tense on Wednesday as ethnic Serbs demand the withdrawal of the mayors in four northern municipalities and Kosovo police sent to support them as they take office.
Ethnic-Albanian majority Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but its Serb minority remains largely loyal to Belgrade.