Australian Open arrivals hit with COVID-19 scare
Less than 48 hours after the first set of players arrived for the delayed Australian Open on charter jets, COVID-19 scare has rocked the tourney. Reportedly, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka is among a group of players set to be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days. The confinement comes after two COVID-positive cases emerged from their charter flight. Here is more.
As per Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper, an email was sent to all players and officials who boarded the flight. It stated they won't be able to leave their quarantine hotel to train. The players will be able to train with an exercise bike left in the rooms. Other players could train under strict conditions, and with supervision for up to five hours a day.
According to the mail, the officials told players who arrived on a flight from LAX (landed in Melbourne at 5:15 AM on Friday) that health authorities had reported two positive COVID-19 PCR tests after arrival.
"The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for 14-day quarantine," the mail read. "We know this is not how you imagined your preparations for the AO would start but our entire team is here to support and do everything we can to get you through this."
The players and officials were supposed to have received negative COVID-19 tests before they boarded their flights. Meanwhile, the players who tested positive on arrival haven't been identified yet. A controversy erupted when it was revealed that Ukarine's Dayana Yastremska, who was provisionally suspended for failing an out-of-competition doping test, flew to Australia. She is also among the players in quarantine.
The charter planes and early arrivals are all part of Tennis Australia's attempt to stage the tournament despite several hurdles amid a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases. Notably, Australia have been able to contain the spread of virus lately.
Recently, the participation of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray was put in doubt as he tested positive for COVID-19 only days before his scheduled flight. The 33-year-old is presently isolating at home in Britain. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are among a group of players involved in an exhibition event to be played ahead Australian Open (starting February 8).