Australia’s government, led by deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, slammed the crowd at the Australian Open final as “disgusting” after a chorus of loud boos echoed across the stadium at the mention of the country’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
Tennis Australia’s president Jayne Hrdlicka faced a jeering crowd, forcing her to halt her speech after she talked about “hope and optimism” from the vaccine rollout during her address at the awards ceremony.
Mr Michael McCormack called the crowd’s behaviour “disgusting” and “un-Australian.”
“I don’t like booing at any event, and certainly any sporting event,” he told reporters on Monday.
“This vaccine is going to get our country back to some sort of pre-Covid normality,” he added.
“It’s been a time of 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,” Ms Hrdlicka had said.
But her comments were immediately met with loud boos that chimed across the stadium. However, the booing faded and loud applause and cheers soon followed, indicating that the situation was under control.
The crowd once again derided Ms Hrdlicka when she thanked the Victorian government for its work in making the tournament happen. She concluded her speech by saying: “You are a very opinionated group of people.”
Former Australian tennis star Rennae Stubbs called it disgraceful.
Novak Djokovic, ranked world’s number one tennis player, won the final of the 2021 Australian Open trouncing Russian Daniil Medvedev on Sunday.
The Serbian player came under heavy criticism pre-tournament for appearing to take the Covid-19 restrictions lightly and was dubbed as tennis’s leading super-spreader for hosting an exhibition tour in June last year amid the pandemic. He and several others tested positive for Covid-19 after the tour.
The handling of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions have been a talking point in the country during the Australian Open.
He also faced the ire of fans after he wrote a letter, asking for easing of some of the quarantine restrictions for the 72 players who were holed up during the lockdown.
Mr Djokovic addressed the criticism he faced during a conversation with the Nine network, saying it was unfair to judge him without checking the reality.
“Of course, it hurts. I’m a human being like anybody else. I have emotions. I don’t enjoy when somebody attacks me in the media openly and stuff. I cannot say I don’t care about it. Of course, it does, I have to be honest,” he said.
The reaction of the crowd also came as fans missed the live action of the tournament after the Victoria state government imposed a snap five-day lockdown due to a Covid-19 outbreak at a quarantine hotel.
Australia started its first stage of vaccine inoculation drive on Monday with frontline workers first in line to receive the first of the 60,000 Pfizer doses. Prime minister Scott Morrison kicked off the drive, taking the first jab.