The Australian Open Will Do Nothing To Celebrate Australia Day To Avoid Offending Fans On January 26


Australian Open organisers have chosen not to stage any events marking Australia Day as they seek to avoid conflict over the under-fire national holiday.

While the tournament held a First Nations Day last week and will hold a Pride Day this Friday, January 26 won’t get the same treatment because the occasion has become a magnet for controversy as a growing number of Australians believe the date should be changed.

Instead of marking the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney in 1788, the Open will instead celebrate the women’s game, according to a statement from Tennis Australia.

‘We are mindful there are differing views, and at the Australian Open we are inclusive and respectful of all,’ the governing body said.

Patriotic Aussie fans (pictured cheering on Alexei Popyrin at the Open last week) won’t be able to attend any Australia Day events at Melbourne Park on January 26

Tennis Australia (CEO Craig Tiley is pictured right with Indigenous icon Evonne Goolagong Cawley, left) is refusing to mark the national holiday because it's become too divisive

Tennis Australia (CEO Craig Tiley is pictured right with Indigenous icon Evonne Goolagong Cawley, left) is refusing to mark the national holiday because it’s become too divisive

‘We acknowledge the historical significance and deep spiritual connection our First Peoples have to this land, and recognise this with a Welcome to Country on stadium screens prior to both the day and night session daily.’

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In addition to the Pride Day, the Australian Open also held the Glam Slam, which saw 180 competitors play in the only LGBTQ tournament played as part of a grand slam.

The Open’s stance on Australia Day comes as Aussie athletes rail against the national holiday.

In just the last few days, Indigenous women’s cricket star Ash Gardner slammed the January 26 celebration for marking ‘the beginning of genocide, massacres and dispossession’.

‘Unfortunately this year the Australian women’s cricket team has been scheduled to play a game on the 26th of January, which certainly doesn’t sit well with me as an individual, but also all the people I’m representing,’ she wrote.

‘When I take the field for this game, I will certainly be reflecting and thinking abou.t all my ancestors and peoples lives who changed from this day.’

The governing body believes celebrating the First Fleet's arrival will go against its mission to be 'inclusive and respectful of all' (fans cheer Australia's Alex de Minaur at the Open, pictured)

The governing body believes celebrating the First Fleet’s arrival will go against its mission to be ‘inclusive and respectful of all’ (fans cheer Australia’s Alex de Minaur at the Open, pictured) 

Her teammates will wear an Indigenous jersey and their socks and wristbands will also feature Indigenous colours and motifs for the match on January 26, in a move orchestrated by the players.

new balance

Gardner was joined by former men’s Test cricket star Jason Gillespie, who called for the date of the holiday to be changed.

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‘A day in which all Australians can celebrate would be my preference,’ Gillespie explained.

‘What a lot of people don’t realise is that history shows Australia Day has not always been celebrated on January 26.

‘The conversations need to continue to explore an alternative.’

Cricket’s governing body, like Tennis Australia, is hedging its bets when it comes to January 26.

Indigenous Aussie cricket star Ash Gardner (pictured) slammed the national day as a celebration of 'the beginning of genocide'

Indigenous Aussie cricket star Ash Gardner (pictured) slammed the national day as a celebration of ‘the beginning of genocide’

Test cricket legend Jason Gillespie has also called for the national celebration to be moved away from January 26

Test cricket legend Jason Gillespie has also called for the national celebration to be moved away from January 26 

‘Cricket Australia acknowledges 26 January is a day that has multiple meanings and evokes mixed feelings in communities across our richly diverse nation,’ a statement from the organisation read.

‘Invasion Day’ rallies will once again be held across the country this Thursday, with thousands of people hitting the streets to protest against the meaning of the holiday and campaign for the date to be changed. 

Kmart has announced it won’t be stocking Australian flag merchandise ahead of January 26, Channel Ten sent an email to staff telling them the holiday is ‘not a day of celebration’, and supermarket giant Woolworths gave its workers the option of working the occasion as a normal shift.

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In addition, prime minister Anthony Albanese declared ‘it’s fine’ to give workers the choice to work on Australia Day after overturning the Morrison government’s ban on public servants coming to the office on the occasion.



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