Fans at the Australia Open were criticized on Sunday after they appeared to boo the mention of a coronavirus vaccine rollout during the men’s final trophy presentation.
The booing occurred after Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka remarked during the presentation how the global vaccine efforts were a sign of optimism following a “deep loss and extraordinary sacrifice for everyone.”
“With vaccinations on the way, rolling out in many countries around the world, it’s now a time for optimism and hope for the future,” she continued, before the crowd at Rod Laver Arena started booing.
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Additional boos rang out after Hrdlicka thanked the Victorian government, which last week ordered residents into a snap five-day lockdown amid outbreak fears, reports said. Hrdlicka eventually stopped her speech and told the crowd, “when you’re finished.”
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Monday called the crowd’s behavior “disgusting”
“I don’t like booing at any event, and certainly any sporting event,” he told reporters, according to the BBC. “This vaccine is going to get our country back to some sort of pre-Covid normality.”
Others took to social media to speak out against the crowd’s behavior.
“That was a really uncomfortable speech. Lot of boos at the mention of coronavirus vaccinations being rolled out. Bonkers,” wrote MetroUK tennis journalist George Bellshaw.
“I actually can’t believe what I’ve just witnessed. Australian Open final crowd booing the Covid vaccine. #AusOpen” replied sports journalist James Gray.
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“The crowd was disgraceful…worst I’ve seen. Shouting during rallies, booing twice during the trophy ceremony. Even Medvedev had to tell them to shut-up at one point,” another user wrote.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, left, holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as he talks with runner-up Russia’s Daniil Medvedev after winning the men’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
The booing occurred after Novak Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to win his ninth Australian Open championship and 18th Grand Slam title on Sunday. The No. 4-seeded Medvedev was trying to collect his first Grand Slam title.
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Australia, meanwhile, kicked off the first stage of its vaccine program on Monday, the broadcasting company reported. Crowds of anti-vaccination demonstrators marched in Australian cities on Saturday to protest against its rollout.