Novak Djokovic takes stand for protesters in Serbia

Serbia has been rocked by protests as anger swells over a government-backed plan to allow an Australian mining company to extract lithium in the country.

Update: 2021-12-07 06:49 GMT

Novak Djokovic shared an emotional message in support of protesters in Serbia on his Instagram story (Getty, Instagram/NovakDjokovic)

Novak Djokovic has taken a stand in support of protesters in Serbia who are raising opposition to an upcoming government project involving an Australian mining company. Major roads and highways have been blocked across Serbia since Saturday as anger swells over a plan to allow a mining company to extract lithium in the country.

Djokovic took to his Instagram handle where he uploaded a photo of the protests against the Serbian government's plans and wrote in his native language: "Clean air, water and food are keys to health. Without that, every word about 'health' is obsolete."

"Given the current civil protests throughout Serbia that indicate the need for a serious and concrete approach to important environmental issues, I decided to address the public, convinced of the great importance of these topics for all of us," wrote the World No. 1 on his Instagram story.

Djokovic stated that he has always tried to be apolitical but that the current protests transcend the realm of politics.

"I am aware that there are other demands that are heard at the protest, which have a political connotation. I want to distance myself from 'position' and 'opposition', political currents of any kind. I have always tried to be APOLITICAL. It bothers me that a person cannot emphasize his personal position and opinion on the basic elements for life and health such as Air, Water and Food without being "marked" as a leftist, rightist, oppositionist, democrat, progressive, socialist etc," he said.

"I hear comments - that an athlete 'interferes where he doesn't belong', but I am a man before I'm an athlete or anything. Like everyone else.

"Air quality in Belgrade (and throughout Serbia) is worryingly poor, for decades," he pointed out. "The quality of water and food is also questionable. These are the basic elements for human health and ecosystems," he said.

Protests continue to grow in Belgrade over the mining contract given by the government to the Rio Tinto company that plans to extract Lithium.

Critics have accused President Aleksandar Vučić's government of setting the stage for illegal land appropriations and ignoring environmental concerns.

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