Coronavirus: 72 tennis players in lockdown after virus cases on flight
The number of players in hard quarantine swelled to 72 ahead of the Australian Open after a fifth positive coronavirus test was returned from the charter flights bringing players, coaches, officials and media to Melbourne for the season-opening tennis major.
That means they won’t be allowed to leave their hotel rooms or practice for 14 days, creating a two-speed preparation period for the tournament. Other players in less rigorous quarantine will be allowed to practice for five hours daily.
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Australian Open organizers confirmed late Sunday that the latest case involved a passenger on the flight from Doha, Qatar to Melbourne who was not a member of the playing contingent.
But all 58 passengers, including the 25 players, now cannot leave their hotel rooms for 14 days.
There were already 47 players, including Grand Slam winners, in hard quarantine after three positive tests were returned from a charter flight that arrived from Los Angeles and one from a flight that departed Abu Dhabi.
Some players have expressed anger at being classified as close contacts merely for being on board those flights with people who later tested positive. That classification has forced them into a harsher isolation than the broader group of players.
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But local government, tennis and health authorities have said all players were warned of the risks in advance.
“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 told a news conference Monday. “There’s no special treatment here ... because a virus doesn’t treat you specially.”
Responding to reports that eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had proposed a list of ideas to change the quarantine conditions for players, Andrews said: “People are free to provide lists of demands but the answer is no.”
Players have been warned that breaching of the rules could result in heavy fines or being moved to a more secure quarantine complex with police stationed at their doors.
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