The Australian Open 2018 has left fans and media furious as organisers have been selling Chinese water during the international event being played at Melbourne. The move has been called ‘unpatriotic’ by the Australian Open fans. Ganten from Shenzhen in China had become the first Chinese food and drink brand to tie-up with the Australian Open in a bid to expand its footprint in Australia. However, the move has not gone down well with the fans. During a local TV programme called ‘A Current Affair’, many Australians said it was not very pleasant to know they were drinking the water that was actually imported from China.
People have also taken to social media platforms to express their anger. “I’ll hazard a guess and say that Chinese visitors here, perhaps in town for the Australian Open, don’t come to Australia to drink Chinese water,” said host Tom Elliott of the 3AW Drive on his Facebook page. Meanwhile, another Facebook user wrote, “Chinese water Why? I would have thought the Australian open would supply Australian water as their official water not Chinese water – double fault organisers.”
The anger is not against the quality of the water being sold but towards an alleged unpatriotic and profit-making scheme that isn’t in the real spirit of the tournament. Fans believe that the organisers should have opted for an Australian brand, instead of Ganten.
However, Tennis Australia has defended the move by saying that Australian Open has “a long history of partnering with international brands”. In a statement, the governing body said that Australian Open is a global tournament and continues to expand its reach and partnerships, which helps to grow the sport at all levels in Australia.
“Ganten water is a premium brand that is associated with other major tennis and sporting events, including Juventus FC,” the statement said. It added that Australian Open 2017 had attracted fans from 72 countries and was broadcast on 65 channels to more 220 territories and 900 million households which makes it a truly global event.
But, none of this has helped Tennis Australia’s case as more complaints have kept coming in.
Not impressed, another Facebook reader posted this message: “Using bottled water from China for the Australian Open is such a poor decision – why didn’t we have bottled water from Australia?”
The local media and commentators have also jumped into the debate and have criticised the organisers. Zhang Qing, a senior sports commentator said that sport and club sponsorships have become a key way for the Chinese enterprises to expand their businesses overseas but, the lack of localization during marketing has had an undesirable effect.