A refugee activist interrupted the Australian Open Men’s Final last night, carrying a banner that read “abolish refugee detention”.
The protestor jumped from the grandstand onto the court during the tense second set between Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev to raise awareness of the refugee detention centre that was less than 10-minutes away.
Police and security immediately swarmed the protestor before they could properly unfurl their banner, dragging them out of the arena like a rag doll as the crowd booed.
We would love to think the booing was at the security for dragging the activist away but these are hard-core tennis fan’s we’re talking about. It seems unlikely.
This is not the first time that protestors condemning Australia’s hard-line immigration policies have made a statement at an Australian Open Final.
In 2015, for instance, during the Australian Open Men’s Final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, a group of activists draped a banner over the court wall reading “Australia Open for refugees #shutdownmanus”.
Similarly to the 2015 incident, which Channel Seven refused to show on live TV – thousands of images and videos did surface online in the aftermath, however – Channel Seven’s coverage this time was again dismissive. As the scene unfolded, sports commentator Todd Woodbridge said “whatever [they] were trying to do, we won’t give [them] any oxygen”.
On social media groups such as RISE, Ex-Detainees and Fight Together for Justice expressed approval for the protest. On Twitter, RISE, an asylum seeker/refugee welfare advocacy organisation, highlighted the jarring reality of Rafael Nadal earning $2,875,000 for his victory in the final while medical evacuation refugees are held indefinitely at the Park Hotel in reportedly squalid conditions – a mere ten-minute drive away from the Rod Laver Arena.
Those who are booing the protesters are part of the white colonial torture system. It’s not a victory for us to witness tennis players making a fortune right next to a refugee torture hotel in Melbourne CBD.
Blood on your hands Australia. pic.twitter.com/jre1GyscU1
— eX-detainees (@riserefugee) January 30, 2022
Refugee issues came to the fore during the Australian Open after Australian authorities cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa and moved him to the Park Hotel where he bunked with over thirty asylum-seekers, some of whom had been held in detention for nine years.
Give this protestor the Australian Open Men’s trophy, we say!