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Morons, Vaccines and Tennis: Booing at the Australian Open

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23.02.2021

It was a fittingly poor conclusion to a tournament that risked being cancelled, run to ground, or even rendered stillborn. The tennis world number one, Novak Djokovic, had captured his eighteenth grand slam against would be usurper Daniil Medvedev, whose winning streak of twenty matches was conclusively blotted. The victory was achieved before a crowd filled with vocal Serbian supporters, flags fluttering, a number sporting the šubara, a rather odd thing to wear given the warm temperature (symbolism will resist climate) and the šajkača cap with insignia associated with the Chetnik irregulars who fought in the Second World War under the monarchist banner.

With sport, history, and battle motifs entangled, supporters awaited, impatiently, for their hero to take the cup. The necessary formalities had to be settled. Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka gave an unremarkable speech, and felt it necessary to mention the difficulties that had come with staging the tournament. “It’s been a time of heartfelt challenge. It’s been a time of deep loss and extraordinary sacrifice for everyone.” But there was some reason to cheer. “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.”

Boos, hissing and jeering followed. These were also repeated when thanks was offered to the Victorian government. Having endured a 112-day hard lockdown with strict limits on movement last year, and a snap five day lockdown that also ate into the tournament schedule, many of the spectators were weary and disgruntled. Hrdlicka was diplomatic. “You are a very opinionated group........

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