Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has led a chorus of condemnation after tennis fans booed Tennis Australia’s president following the Open men’s final, describing it as “un-Australian” and “disgusting behaviour”.
Jayne Hrdlicka was making her speech following Novak Djokovic’s win in the men’s singles final at Melbourne Park on Sunday night when the crowd became restless.
The Serbian player had just won his ninth Australian Open and 18th grand slam.
When Ms Hrdklicka spoke about vaccines, the crowd unleashed a chorus of boos.
“I don’t like booing at any event, and certainly any sporting event,” Mr McCormack said Monday.
“Well that’s not Australian. I’m sorry, that is just un-Australian,” Mr McCormack said.
“This vaccine is going to get our country back to some sort of pre-COVID normality.”
Ms Hrdlicka had thanked the Victorian government for helping ensure the tournament went ahead, and said the vaccine rollout was a cause for optimism.
“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 said, before pausing to let the crowd settle.
Ms Hrdlicka then thanked the state government, saying: “Without you we could not have done this.”
This led to another chorus of boos.
Ms Hrdlicka finished her speech by thanking fans, and calling those in attendance a “very opinionated group of people”.
Australian champion Rennae Stubbs led the criticism of the fan reaction, describing it as disgraceful.
“These fans booing are disgraceful! Honestly!!! Grow up!” she tweeted.
She swiftly followed that a broad congratulations to all involved in running the successful grand slam.
“You kept us and the company safe. You also employed thousands of people … and entertained more with little sleep. Proud of our sport,” she wrote.
International Australian Open viewers were also shocked at the crowd response, including British tennis correspondent Stuart Fraser.
“The Australian Open has remarkably somehow come to a successful conclusion,” he 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 tennis correspondent Simon Cambers agreed.
“Morons in the crowd booing at the mention of vaccines,” he wrote on Twitter.
Coronavirus restrictions have been a common talking point during the Open. More than 70 players were forced into hard quarantine in Melbourne after positive tests on charter flights bringing players and officials into the country.
Crowds were also banned from the event during Victoria’s recent snap five-day lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a quarantine hotel.
Djokovic has also been a polarising figure during the coronavirus pandemic.
While many countries were locked down amid surging COVID infections, Djokovic hosted an exhibition tour in Serbia and Croatia.
The tour drew criticism, especially from fellow tour player Nick Kyrgios.
Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 following the tour.
He also came under fire for a “list of demands”, asking Tennis Australia to ease some of the quarantine restrictions placed on players in Australia.