Justin Bieber has done it again. The Canadian teen who has caused shopping-mall stampedes in New York and Paris in the past set off a dangerous crowd surge in Sydney, Australia, on Monday (April 26) when fans just couldn't wait for his scheduled mini-set on the "Sunrise" morning show. Producers were forced to cut short his appearance to avoid further injuries to the hysterical crowd.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, thousands of Bieber fans camped out overnight at the overseas passenger terminal at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour for Bieber's only scheduled concert in Australia on Monday. But when the screaming teens began to surge forward in waves while waiting for him to appear, police said they broke down the crowd barrier and girls near the front were being crushed against the stage, so organizers and police canceled the show.
"Everybody was just shoving and pushing forward. They had two massive screens out, and they started to play Justin Bieber songs and everybody started cheering and pushing forward more," said 13-year-old Sophie Kelly, one of four Aussie teens who won a contest to meet Bieber before the aborted show. The concert's host came out and told the crowd the show would be canceled if everyone didn't take two steps back and stop pushing.
"But he [the host] was acting like the whole thing was a joke, and he kept on adding Justin Bieber things in there and so people just kept on screaming and pushing forward more," Kelly said.
The problems began when word started to circulate around 2 a.m. that Bieber had arrived in Sydney, which set off a crowd surge that continued on and off for the next several hours, and some of the estimated 4,000 fans were trampled and crushed. More than 100 teens near the stage were pulled out of the crush suffering from distress, another 10 were treated by paramedics after fainting, and two were taken to a local hospital for more serious injuries. Police decided to pull the plug before any more injuries were sustained, according to the paper.
Police broke up the event and told everyone to go home, which did not sit well with the fans, or their parents. "Clearly this total waste of our kids' time, sleep and pocket money getting there was a deliberate publicity stunt designed to exploit fans," one father told the paper.
Hoping to calm the disappointed crowd down, Bieber performed his hit "Baby" in the "Sunrise" studio before telling fans to go home. He had been scheduled to sing three songs at the show.
"I would love you to stay and hang, but you have got to go," he told the throng. "The police say you've got to go home." He promised to come back to Australia soon.
"I am just as disappointed as everyone else with the news from this morning. I want to sing for my fans." he tweeted later, clarifying that he did not cancel the show. "I woke up this morning to the police canceling the show for safety reasons. ... I love my fans ... I love it here in Australia ... and I want to sing."
Bieber later thanked his Australian fans for such a warm welcome and reminded them that their safety comes first. "With everything that happened 2day I want u all 2 know I care and u all rule and if I could thank every 1 of u individually I would," he tweeted hours after the incident.
For fervent Bieber followers, the Sydney surge sounded very similar to a previous incident at a mall in Long Island, New York, in November, when a concert by the singer was canceled at the final moment and hundreds of fans started a stampede after an alleged sighting of the singer. Bieber's manager, Scott "Scooter" Braun, pleaded not guilty last month to charges of reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance stemming from the incident at Roosevelt Field Mall when a crowd of 30,000 became unruly and five were injured in a stampede.
Do you think Justin Bieber fans are getting a little too feverish, or are the police overreacting? Have you been at an out-of-control Bieber event? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.