Australian Open training delayed, 72 players in full quarantine

Australian Open
Australian Open

Authorities on Sunday said outdoor training for the upcoming Australian Open would be delayed.

This development came as they confirmed more people who had traveled on flights with players had tested positive for the coronavirus.

A total of 72 players must now stay in quarantine for two weeks and only train in their hotel rooms, with the Melbourne grand slam starting three weeks later than usual on Feb. 8.

This comes after a third person who traveled on a chartered flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne tested positive as well as someone who flew from Doha to Melbourne.

Australia’s COVID-19 quarantine commissioner Emma Cassar said the new person who had tested positive from the LA flight was a member of a broadcast team.

A cabin crew member and a coach also returned positive results.

Canadian coach Sylvain Bruneau meanwhile said he was the person who tested positive upon arrival on another charter flight from Abu Dhabi.

This means five infected people have now arrived in Australia on planes carrying players.

At least four of the five had tested negative prior to departing.

Cassar said that all people aboard the flights were considered close contacts and therefore had to isolate for two weeks.

Among the players having to quarantine is former Australian Open champion and world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany, who tweeted Saturday that she was aboard the flight from Abu Dhabi.

All players were already obligated to undergo a two-week quarantine on arrival in Australia, but they were granted an exemption to train outside for several hours a day.

Cassar however told reporters in Melbourne that training has also been delayed for those not on the affected flights “because a number of test results are not in yet.”

She added that all players’ tests have been processed but authorities were waiting on other members of the tournament’s cohort.

The commissioner also said that some of the players in quarantine were “testing our procedures” and risked facing fines up to 20,000 Australian dollars (15,300 US dollars).

She cited the example of a player who opened his hotel door to talk with someone down the corridor.

Cassar also said that all the individuals who needed to travel to Australia for the tournament have now arrived.

Bruneau, who coaches 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, said he was “saddened and sorry” for the impact his positive coronavirus test had on the Australian Open.

In a statement shared by Tennis Canada, the coach said that he “followed all of the safety protocols and procedures” and tested negative within 72 hours of boarding his flight in Abu Dhabi.

“I have no idea how I might have contracted the virus,” he said.

Kazakh player Yulia Putintseva was frustrated with the situation.

She wrote on Twitter on Saturday: “What I don’t understand is that, why no-one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated… I would think twice before coming here.”

Authorities however say players were made aware of the rules. (dpa/NAN)

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