International tennis media were left shocked by “morons” at the Australian Open final booing the mention of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.
Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka mentioned the vaccine rollout in her speech at the post-final presentation, only to be loudly booed by some spectators.
It was a startling moment that was not lost on non-Australian watchers, who have otherwise witnessed the nation’s stringent approach to coronavirus management during the duration of the tournament.
A government decision to place 72 players in hard quarantine due to the presence of COVID-19 on certain charter flights sparked unrest in the playing ranks. Tournament director Craig Tiley revealed that he’d copped “significant abuse” while communicating with players, despite one – Paula Badosa – testing positive for COVID-19 after the lockdown call.
UK tennis correspondent Stuart Fraser, of The Times, blasted both the booing fans and the disgruntled players.
“The Australian Open has remarkably somehow come to a successful conclusion,” Fraser wrote on Twitter.
“But between players giving tournament director Craig Tiley ‘significant abuse’and spectators booing the mention of vaccines at the trophy ceremony, it really has brought out some morons.”
Veteran UK tennis writer Simon Cambers agreed with Fraser’s terminology.
Metro tennis writer George Bellshaw branded the reaction to Hrdlicka’s speech “bonkers”, while The Daily Mail’s Mike Dickson called the booing “awkward”.
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg said that the booing of vaccine sadly summed up a bizarre summer in Australia.
Australian tennis great Rennae Stubbs, now a US-based analyst for ESPN, branded the booing fans “disgraceful”.
Press Association tennis correspondent Eleanor Crooks noted that the Victorian Government was also loudly booed by fans.
Hrdlicka’s comment on the vaccine was seemingly inoffensive.
“It’s been a time of heartfelt challenge. It’s been a time of deep loss and extraordinary sacrifice for everyone,” Hrdlicka said.
“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.”
Yet the crowd was unruly from that point on in her speech and eventually the TA president and chairwoman lost patience and said: “When you’re finished …”
Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who won his ninth title at the Grand Slam on Sunday, voiced opposition to mandatory vaccination last year as the pandemic unfolded.
There were many vocal Djokovic fans in the stands for the final, though it is unclear exactly who was booing Hrdlicka’s vaccination remark.
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