Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australian Open chief: No delay in spite of 47-player quarantine chaos



Australian Open chief: No delay in spite of 47-player quarantine chaos

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
World No1 tennis ace Novak Djokovic heads for quarantine from the airport ahead of the Australian Open warm-up matches. AFP

Australian Open chief: No delay in spite of 47-player quarantine chaos

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley insisted on January 17 the Grand Slam would begin as scheduled next month, while admitting it was “not a great situation” for the 47 players who have been confined to their hotel rooms.

The tournament was thrown into disarray on January 16 when three people tested positive to Covid-19 on two of the 17 charter flights that brought players and their entourages to Melbourne and Adelaide.

None were players, although one was Sylvain Bruneau, coach of Canada’s 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu.

Everyone on board was considered to be close contacts and ordered not to leave their hotel rooms for the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

It means 47 players will not be allowed out to train for five hours a day as previously agreed in the build-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, which is due to start on February 8.

The likes of Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori and Angelique Kerber are believed to among those affected, badly impacting their preparations.

“We always knew there would be significant risk with this pandemic, you can never tell,” Tiley told Channel Nine television.

“But the Australian Open is going ahead and we will continue to do the best we possibly can to ensure those players that have what is not a great situation, one that is somewhat acceptable.”

Organisers quashed rumours about a positive case on one of the two flights that brought the game’s biggest names into Adelaide.

While most players touched down in Melbourne, superstars including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka instead flew into the South Australian city.

Risks made clear

A few players, including Sorana Cirstea and Belinda Bencic, took to social media to complain about not being able to train, with some claiming they were not told about a hard lockdown if one person tested positive.

“If they would have told us this rule before I would not play Australia,” tweeted Romania’s Cirstea.

But Tiley, while admitting it was hard, said players were made aware of the risks. “We did make it very clear at the beginning, that’s why we had the player groups in cohorts, there was always a risk that someone would be positive and have to go into 14 days of isolation,” he said.

“There was a risk on the plane that you would be a close contact, there was a risk that everyone could be a close contact.”

He said he was doing what he could to ensure affected players had exercise equipment in their rooms. But he acknowledged they would struggle to be ready for a week of lead-in tournaments to start in Melbourne from January 31.

Asked if the 47 players would miss those events, he replied: “They have not been ruled out.

“Obviously at this point, they are not going to get on-court preparation. But we’ll access that, we’ll work with each of the players to see what is best.

“If we have to make some adjustments to the schedule we will do whatever we can to make it an environment that is best for the players.”

The Australian Open had already been hit by the withdrawal of injured Roger Federer, while world number 16 Madison Keys and three-time major winner Andy Murray both tested positive for the virus before departure so did not board the flights to Australia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration