Serbia was very angry about Novak Djokovic’s case

Serbia was very angry about Novak Djokovic’s case
Serbia was very angry about Novak Djokovic’s case

The case that has been created in recent days around the Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, blocked in Australia due to a bureaucratic hitch related to his decision not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, is also followed with great attention in Serbia. The Serbian president and prime minister openly defended Djokovic and summoned the Australian ambassador to Belgrade, while hundreds of people attended a demonstration organized by the tennis player’s family in front of the Serbian parliament.

“Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak,” said his mother, Dijana Djokovic, speaking during the demonstration. His father, Srdjan Djokovic, added that “they are trampling on him to trample on Serbia and the Serbs.”

Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, during the demonstration in support of his son in front of the Serbian Parliament (Srdjan Stevanovic / Getty Images)

Between Thursday and Friday, several newspapers reported on the reactions caused by the Djokovic case in Serbia, not only at the governmental and institutional level.

BBC News he wrote for example that “Djokovic’s views reflect a broad skepticism about vaccines in Serbian society, a country where less than half the population has received at least one dose.” Others have pointed out that Djokovic’s misadventure is fueling the victim narrative of Serbian nationalists that the international community has always been hostile to the Serbian cause, the claims of which caused the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

On Thursday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, expression of a center-right nationalist party, posted a photo of Djokovic on Instagram explaining that he had spoken on the phone with “our Novak” assuring him that he enjoys the support of the whole country. The Guardian he added that pro-government newspapers have sided compactly in favor of Djokovic, fueling the narrative that he would be unjustly persecuted.

Djokovic is by far the most famous sportsman in Serbia, and he is obviously very popular also in the various Serbian communities around the world: including the Australian one, which has tens of thousands of people.

“After the war it was not easy to make our voices heard,” he explained some time ago to the New York Times Zeljko Prodanovic, editor of an Australian magazine dedicated to the Serbian community: «in the movies the Serbs are always the bad guys. But the fact that the best tennis player in the world is Serbian makes us proud ».

It is very rare for Djokovic to take political positions in public, but in the past he was accused of being on excellent terms with some Serbian nationalist leaders: in September he was photographed at the wedding of Milorad Dodik, the controversial president of Bosnia and Herzegovina voiced by ethnicity Serbian, and a few days later he posted a photo of her with a former Serbian army commander involved in the Srebrenica massacre.

“Serbian public opinion has the clear impression that Djokovic is the victim of a political game against his will and that he was lured to Australia to be humiliated”, explained the Serbian Foreign Ministry in a statement summarizing many of the positions taken by the Serbian politicians these days.

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