The 2021 Australian Open was certainly a different event than usual. In the midst of a ‘global pandemic’, the Andrews government made the decision to allow around 1,240 players and staff into the state for the tennis tournament. While many healthy Victorians were locked out of their own state due to restrictions and border closers, tennis players from countries with extremely high case numbers like the US and UK, as well as players like Andy Murray and Tennys Sandgren, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, were allowed into the country.
During the tournament, there was an ‘outbreak’ at the Holiday Inn quarantine hotel. The Andrews government announced a strict Stage 4 lockdown for the entire state. Crowds were barred from the Australian Open, refunds were issued and the entire state were not allowed to travel more than 5km from their homes. All the while, the tournament continued on, with the world watching on TV, intermittently broken up by ads from Tourism Victoria encouraging the rest of the country to come and visit a place so unstable, you could get stranded for an indefinite period of time due to snap lockdowns and border closures.
Is it any wonder then, that when the tournament wrapped up on Sunday night, the crowd were less than ecstatic? Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka took to the stage in front of an international crowd and said, “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.” This comment was met with a boo that was heard around the world.
News.com.au claimed that “whether the stand were full of anti-vaxxers or spectators were simply venting their frustration at how long it’s taken the rollout to start in Australia, their response was impossible to miss”. It sure was! And it didn’t end there, as Hrdlicka went on to thank the Victorian government, saying that “without you we could not have done this”. This was met with an equally harsh response from the angry crowd. After being repeatedly interrupted by the crowd, Hrdlicka lost her composure, coldly stating that “you are a very opinionated group of people”. Given the disproportionate response by the Andrews government, including one of the harshest lockdowns in the world, as well as an experimental vaccine being pushed onto an unsuspecting public, aren’t we within our rights to have an opinion on this issue?
The plight of the common people isn’t really something Hrdlicka is concerned about, cutting around 3,000 jobs in her role as Virgin Airlines CEO, and being ousted from her position at A2 milk after paying $19 million in consultancy fees to her former employer, global management firm, Bain and Co. She’s hardly a “woman of the people” who can sympathise
with Victorian businesses that are rumoured to have collectively lost $1 billion over the
recent five day snap lockdown.
If you happen to be scrolling through Twitter, you would be forgiven for thinking that everyone is “disappointed” at the behaviour of the Victorian crowd. “Privileged”, “bonkers”, “disgrace”, “should be ashamed”, “selfish”, “disrespectful” and “nasty” are just a few of the derogatory terms being used to describe the crowd. The people of Australia are waking up to being coerced by the government into taking a vaccine that is new, experimental and rushed-to-market. A vaccine that has bypassed critical animal trials and has no long-term safety data. A vaccine for a virus with a 99.7% survival rate.
Part of this glorious incident is being blamed on the winner of the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, after he said that he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine”. Since then, Djokovic has been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 and maintains that his “issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want. For me that’s unacceptable.” Could one blame him? Is it not perfectly acceptable to be able to choose what goes into our bodies? Especially in Australia, a place where we are “young and (supposedly) free”.
Our Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, needs to be gently reminded of these words from our National Anthem when he today described the booing as “un-Australian”. Ironically, a few weeks ago he was a great defender of free speech when he criticised twitter for removing Donald Trump and defended MP George Christensen’s tweets supporting the former President. What has changed since Mr McCormack? Are the people of Victoria less worthy of a voice?
According to the website of Premier Daniel Andrews, “the values all Victorians should live by – one law for all, freedom to be yourself, discrimination is never acceptable, a fair go for all and that it is up to all of us to contribute”. Are we only to “contribute” when we agree with those in power? Is it only okay to “be yourself” when blindly accepting the mass media narrative? Is it only okay to discriminate and divide the people and call them “un-Australian” for exercising their free speech when you are the deputy prime minister?
At the 2021 Australian Open Men’s Singles Final on Sunday night, the people of Australia took a stand and said enough is enough. They said no to an experimental vaccine and yes to medical freedom. And the best part was that the entire world got to see it!