Australian Open fans criticized for booing Covid-19 vaccine announcement
Audible boos could be heard throughout the Melbourne crowd of approximately 7,400 during a speech by Tennis Australia chief Jayne Hrdlicka, in which she suggested now was a time for “optimism and hope” with vaccinations “rolling out in many countries the world.”
Hrdlicka continued to speak, only to be interrupted with more jeers after she thanked the state government. “You are a very opinionated group of people,” Hrdlicka said in response to the crowd reaction.
It’s not clear why the crowd booed the vaccine mention.
The incident comes as Australia rolls out its national inoculation program Monday, with healthcare workers and seniors among the first to get their shots.
Australia has secured more than 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, with the first batch of Pfizer shots arriving in the country last week, according to health officials.
The booing at the Australian Open followed a series of small protests across the country on Saturday, where hundreds of anti-vaccination advocates gathered to demonstrate against the vaccine program just days before it was due to begin.
Australia has been among the world’s most successful countries in containing the coronavirus, thanks to its relative isolation and highly-effective Covid-19 prevention measures, including mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals, rapid lockdowns and free public testing.
Spectators were even briefly banned from the Australian Open itself last week after a minor outbreak in Melbourne sent the city into a government-mandated lockdown for five days.
About 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be administered by the end of February, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office, but Morrison has said repeatedly that he will not make taking the shots mandatory.