Mon, 08 Mar 2021

72 players under strict quarantine ahead of Australian Open

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2021, 01:55 GMT+10

The number of players under a strict quarantine ahead of the Australian Open has grown to 72 after another person aboard a charter aircraft headed to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.

Players under the mandated hard quarantine will not be allowed to practice or have training time for at least two weeks.

These players flew to Australia on flights arranged by the tournament, and three planes had at least one person aboard test positive. In all, five people have tested positive.

The latest case stems from a charter flight from Doha, Qatar, which transported 58 passengers, including 25 players. Qualifiers were held in Doha.

"The 25 players on the flight will not be able to leave their hotel room for 14 days and until they are medically cleared. They will not be eligible for [practice]," the Australian Open said in a statement.

Players who traveled to Melbourne aboard other planes also are under a 14-day quarantine but they are allowed to leave their rooms for five hours of training each day.

Some players took to social media to voice their concerns. Other players have countered that they are not bothered by the quarantine, but that they are expected to be in top form soon after their quarantine ends.

"We are not complaining to be in Quarantine," Belinda Bencic of Switzerland tweeted. "We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments."

Tournament director Craig Tiley said the tournament remains scheduled to begin Feb. 8. The season's first Grand Slam already was pushed back from its typical January start.

"The Australian Open is going ahead and we will continue to do the best we possibly can do to ensure those players have the best opportunity," he said.

Australian media reported that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic issued an open letter to Tiley with demands for the players. Djokovic is quarantining in Adelaide, Australia, and not Melbourne.

His letter included requests for fitness and training equipment to be put in all hotel rooms, for permission to visit a coach or trainer if all have tested negative, reduced isolation time, for as many players as possible to be moved to private homes with tennis courts and better food.

Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in June.

"People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no," Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria state, told reporters Monday.

--Field Level Media

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