A number of Australian Open tennis players will be forced to make a quick turnaround.
According to The Associated Press, positive COVID-19 tests on flights to Australia have caused 72 players to be quarantined in their hotel rooms for 14 days. The tournament, which brings up to 1,200 people to Australia, is scheduled to run from Feb. 8 through Feb. 21 in Melbourne.
The AP reports that there have been five positive COVID-19 tests on the charter flights bringing players, coaches, officials and media to the tournament. The players who weren’t on those flights — and therefore aren’t in hard quarantine — will be allowed to practice for up to five hours each day. Players that break quarantine rules could be fined or moved to a police-secured complex.
“There’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules — well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came and that was a condition on which they came,” Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said Monday. “There’s no special treatment here … because a virus doesn’t treat you specially.”
None of the five positive COVID-19 tests have been players. Three of the positive tests were announced Saturday, while two were announced Sunday. Those individuals, who had tested negative before boarding their flights to Australia, have been transferred to a health hotel.
Tennis player Yulia Putintseva tweeted that “What I don’t understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane needed to be isolated. I would think twice before coming here.”
Sorana Cirstea agreed, while adding that the issue isn’t quarantining, but having to compete after spending 14 days in a hotel room. She said she’d need at least three weeks in order to compete at a high level after a two-week quarantine.
“Now we have to manage an environment over the next 14 days for those who won’t be able to practice,” tournament director Craig Tiley said. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to make it as fair as possible for those players that are in lockdown.”