Djokovic – a hero in the eyes of Serbians

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec5,2023 #Djokovic #Serbians
Djokovic - a hero in the eyes of Serbians 2
Djokovic - a hero in the eyes of Serbians 2

The images painted on concrete walls in the Brutalist neighborhood of Banjica, a few kilometers south of the center of Serbia’s capital Belgrade, depict some of the country’s most beloved faces such as religious leaders

But the murals of Novak Djokovic have a special meaning.

A painting of Djokovic is painted on the wall in the Banjica residential area, Belgrade, Serbia.

Georgio Petrovic, 21, was born a year after the bombing and lived in this famous residential area.

`He’s a hero,` Petrovic said, looking at the picture of Djokovic on the wall.

That sense of personal connection and pride is widely shared in Serbia, at a time of widespread discontent across the country over a range of issues such as corruption and people’s distrust of the government.

Recent controversies involving Djokovic in Australia are not enough to affect the world number one tennis player’s reputation at home, even among those who disagree with his decision to refuse vaccination.

`In the current gray and gloomy atmosphere, the only joy for many people is to see him win another trophy,` said Dr. Zoran Radovanovic, an epidemiologist who has closely followed the competition.

As Djokovic fights to stay in Australia after his visa was canceled by the country for the second time, he has been caught up in a larger debate in Serbia about Covid-19 restrictions, government policies, and freedom.

For many people, he is a threat to public health.

Although he emphasized that he does not encourage others to avoid vaccination like him, Djokovic’s image has been used by a series of anti-vaccination groups in Serbia and around the world.

To others, especially in his home country of Serbia, Djokovic is seen as a victim, with political and religious leaders trying to protect him to both gain public sympathy and serve the cause.

With elections coming up in April, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic appears to be trying to strike a balance, both encouraging vaccination and steadfastly protecting the nation’s `darling`.

`When you can’t beat someone on the court, you do things like that,` he said last week when Djokovic was prevented from entering Australia.

Djokovic - a hero in the eyes of Serbians

Novak Djokovic competes in Melbourne, Australia on January 30, 2020.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Djokovic received a medical exemption when entering Australia by submitting evidence that he had contracted the virus in December. But the tennis player later admitted that he did not quarantine immediately after learning of the positive result.

`I am proud that through our efforts we were able to help one of the best athletes of all time,` the Serbian President announced on January 12 in an interview.

At the forefront of efforts to protect Djokovic remains his family.

Djokovic has become a phenomenon in Serbia.

Even those who think that Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated is ignorant and not helpful to the community, they do not put him in the ranks of the `vaccination card team`.

`For me, an anti-vaxxer is someone who actively promotes the stance of not using vaccines,` unlike Djokovic, said Sasa Ozmo, a journalist from Sport Klub, Serbia’s leading sports newspaper.

According to Dr. Radovanic, former director of the Institute of Epidemiology at the University of Belgrade, Djokovic may be influenced by his living environment rather than shaping it.

Less than 50% of Serbia’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to data from Oxford University’s Our World in Data project.

Vuk Brajovic, a tennis reporter who has reported on Djokovic for more than a decade, said that although this star has made many mistakes, such as still appearing in public after testing positive for nCoV in December, it can be understood.

`He had serious breathing problems when his career started to take off due to some allergies. Doctors initially thought it was asthma. But only after switching to a gluten-free diet

Even Djokovic’s harshly condemned international decision to organize a tennis tournament in the middle of a pandemic was interpreted differently in Serbia.

The tournament, which began in June 2020, was eventually canceled after several players were infected with nCoV and Djokovic received countless international criticism.

As planned, the tournament will take place in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, showing Djokovic’s rare ability to unite a region where ethnic, cultural and historical divisions are

However, there are still voices of dissatisfaction in Serbia because of Djokovic’s recent actions.

Djokovic - a hero in the eyes of Serbians

A woman takes a photo in front of photos of Djokovic at his family’s restaurant in Belgrade.

Dusan Nedeljkovic, 61, was filling out a booster vaccination application form on January 13 at Belgrade Fair, the main vaccination center of the Serbian capital.

`I love Noel,` he said, using Djokovic’s nickname.

Nedeljkovic added that he does not think the tennis star’s stance on vaccines will have a big impact on the country, but he is worried about the upcoming wave of infections.

`Not enough people, especially people under 40 years old, have been vaccinated,` he said.

A year ago, people lined up at the Belgrade Fair waiting to be vaccinated and about 8,000 doses of vaccine were administered each day.

Doctor Milena Turubatovic, vaccine manager at Belgrade Fair, said that currently, if they are lucky, they can vaccinate about 300 people a day.

She also admires Djokovic but worries that focusing too much on the player’s vaccination status isn’t really helping.

For his family, Djokovic’s fight is for justice and freedom.

`Obviously the fact that my child comes from a small and poor country is not something that powerful people like,` Djokovic’s father said.

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