Tennis’ first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, is coming under pressure to be abandoned as a result of ten positive cases in the Melbourne area linked to the tournament.
Police minister for the state of Victoria, Lisa Neville, confirmed a further three new cases on Wednesday, two of which were players and the other being a support person with a player.
Neville said: “The player, the support person and their bubble- so the other support person and player they’re with – will not be training until we have a final confirmation either that they are shedding or that they are positive.
“If they are positive, those two will go into the health hotel and their bubble will be considered close contacts and will be in lockdown for the 14 days.”
Craig Tiley, the chief executive of Tennis Australia, reiterated the bodies stance that public health is the main priority for the organisers of the competition. However, Tiley does have sympathy with the players who have been forced to quarantine for fourteen days once they arrive in Melbourne.
“I do understand the players, this is a new experience for them and I don’t think anyone expected to know what the 14 days was like and they are adapting to it,” said Tiley.
He continued: “At the beginning, it was pretty challenging with their adaptation, it’s got a lot better, I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and there is a minority struggling with it, but we are going to do whatever we can to make it better for them.”
17-time Grand Slam winner and reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has been one of several players critical of the conditions that players have had to cope with since arriving in Australia. Tennis stars have been forced to remain in their rooms for the full two weeks of quarantine and are prohibited from meeting their coaches or practicing on court.
The citizens of Melbourne endured the most restrictive lockdown the world has seen since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and are understood to be largely at odds with the players complaints considering travel into Australia has been limited since the pandemic first came to Australia.
The Australian Open is set to begin on February 8th and will conclude on February 21st when the men’s final will take place at the Rod Laver Arena.