Before speaking on an embarrassing and thorny issue, the sponsors of Novak Djokovic preferred to wait for the match point of the five tight sets of the world No. 1 against the Australian authorities.
After the defeat on green carpet of their gondola head and his dismissal from Australia, the economic partners of the Serb could not remain silent forever.
“This stage having passed, they will no longer be able to remain silent, even if it is to make nuanced or cautious remarks, explained Sunday Augustin Pénicaud, deputy general manager at Havas Sports & Entertainment, on leparisien.fr.
They must express themselves and are also strongly challenged on social networks.
The question is necessarily asked internally, and complicated.
Will they seek to break their contracts, continue to support him or perhaps temporarily suspend their communications?
Tennis player Novak Djokovic has landed in Belgrade, Serbia following his expulsion from Australia pic.twitter.com/VO6fyVmqld
– BFMTV (@BFMTV) January 17, 2022
The Serb, who received last year according to Forbes 26.3 million euros in non-sporting income (out of a total of 33.3) has a slew of international sponsors.
Beyond Head (rackets), Lacoste (textiles) or Asics (shoes), it is notably under contract with Peugeot (cars), Hublot (watches), Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) or Raiffeisen Bank (the third largest bank in Switzerland ).
Hublot and Raiffeisen were the first to react.
“Hublot will continue its partnership with the world number 1 in tennis,” said the Swiss watch manufacturer, which it joined last summer.
Novak Djokovic is his own person.
We cannot comment on any of his personal decisions.
On Monday, as Djokovic was about to land in Belgrade from Melbourne via Dubai, Lacoste said in a statement that he wanted to talk "as soon as possible" with the world No. 1.
“The Australian authorities have canceled Novak Djokovic's visa.
As a result, it will not be possible for him to participate in the Australian Open, ”wrote in a press release the brand which has equipped the player since May 2017 and whose contract should soon expire.
As soon as possible, we will exchange with Novak Djokovic to take stock of the events that accompanied his presence on Australian territory.
☑ Novak Djokovic has arrived in Belgrade!
— beIN SPORTS (@beinsports_FR) January 17, 2022
Lacoste would have done without the visibility of the crocodile on all the pictures and videos showing his champion driven out of Australia.
Just like Head, which has been supplying men's rackets to the 20 Grand Slams for twelve years and whose logo has been widely exposed in recent hours.
We are now awaiting the reaction of the other sponsors of the Serb, who does not intend to speak publicly in the coming days.
Even if he became the muse of antivax without knowing it of his own free will, Djokovic drags behind him a serious ball.
The large groups that accompany it cannot have an ambiguous position vis-à-vis vaccination.
More than the recent setbacks of “Djoko”, it is above all the way in which he envisages his future that counts.
His choices will weigh heavily...