The difference between the Australian Open COVID plan and rules at other international tournaments


The world’s best tennis players have had an abrupt introduction to the world of hotel quarantine and isolation upon their arrival into Australia.

Of all the players set to compete in the first major of the season, 72 are now in hard quarantine after three of the 17 charter flights were impacted by positive COVID tests.

Some players have criticised the hard quarantine, saying they did not know that everyone on a flight would have to quarantine in the event of a positive test, although that has been contradicted by some other players.

Regardless, the increase in restrictions the players are facing has come as a shock to their collective systems. So why is that?

What have the rules been at other tournaments?

Like most sports around the world in 2020, tennis endured a hiatus of several months, with tournaments, including Wimbledon, cancelled across the world.

However, after that period off, tennis got back underway, with the US and French Opens both taking place, in conjunction with their associated warm-up tournaments.

Those tournaments used very similar protocols to those being used in Australia.

At the US Open, players were placed in a bio-secure bubble, with allocated hotels close to the National Tennis Centre site at Flushing Meadows.

Naomi Osaka wore masks with names of people killed as a result of police brutality in America during the US Open.(AP: Frank Franklin II)

Players were regularly tested, twice within 48 hours of arriving in New York before being accredited, and then re-tested every four days after. At the Australian Open, players will be tested every day.

Heading off site, including visiting Manhattan, was banned and players had to wear masks when not on court.

The US Open even moved a warm-up event, the Cincinnati Open, to Flushing Meadows to reduce the amount of travel for players, much in the same way that the pre-Australian Open tournaments were moved from Perth, Brisbane and Sydney to Melbourne.

Players were told to wear masks at all times apart from playing, as well as subjecting themselves to daily temperature testing and a questionnaire before being allowed access.

The rules around the French Open, which took place two weeks after the conclusion of the US Open, were similar.

Simona Halep holds a trophy and a bunch of flowers while wearing a mask
Simona Halep won the Italian Open, prior to the French Open.(LaPresse via AP: Alfredo Falcone)

Were the players OK with that?

There was some dissent at the conditions imposed on players for the return to tennis.

Novak Djokovic, who has also called for changes in quarantine for players in Australia, criticised the conditions that were imposed for the US Open, saying it would be “impossible” to play tennis.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme,” Djokovic said in an interview with Serbian TV prior to the tournament.

“We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week … we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

An image posted to Rafa Nadal’s Facebook account on September 2, 2020.
Rafael Nadal did not travel to the US Open, but won the French Open.(Facebook: Rafa Nadal)

Rafael Nadal also didn’t travel, questioning the safety of travelling during the pandemic.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal tweeted ahead of the Open.

“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

He had no such qualms about travelling to France though, where he won a record-extending 13th French Open title.

Lack of quarantine around the world

Normally, the life of a tennis pro involves multiple smash-and-grab raids around the world — players fly in to a city, play and then fly out again once they’re done.

However, that’s not possible in Australia due to the federal requirement to quarantine.

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2021 Australian Open COVID crisis deepens, Pfizer vaccine deaths in Norway spark concern, worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops 2 million


Three mystery cases of the same strain of COVID-19 that erupted within hours of each other at opposite ends of Sydney’s northern beaches are at the centre of the hunt for the outbreak’s patient zero.

However, the popular theory that Sydney’s latest wave of cases was spawned by a celebrity or a business identity self-isolating on the beaches’ affluent northern peninsula appears to have been debunked by authorities.

NSW Health has revealed it did not grant any exemptions to isolate outside of hotel quarantine to any local residents in the month leading up to the outbreak.

Find out what else health authorities know so far about “patient zero”.

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Fifth COVID-19 case detected among Australian Open arrivals



A fifth case of COVID-19 has been detected among arrivals for the Australian Open in Melbourne, sending a third flight of tennis players into strict quarantine.

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Vic won’t budge on Open player lockdown | Cowra Guardian


A fourth Australian Open arrival has tested positive for coronavirus, as Victoria’s quarantine boss refuses to “water down” hard lockdown directions for players deemed close contacts.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar on Sunday confirmed a broadcast team member on a flight that landed from Los Angeles on Friday has returned a positive test.

It means four people from the 1200-strong international tennis contingent have tested positive, with the Victorian government continuing to defend its decision to push ahead with the grand slam tournament.

The positive tests have forced 125 close contacts aboard the planes from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi into hard lockdown for the next two weeks, including 47 players.

They were originally given an exemption to leave their quarantine hotel to train for up to five hours a day if they returned a negative test.

But the positive tests mean they are considered close contacts and confined to their rooms unable to practice.

“It’s far from ideal, but COVID is far from ideal,” Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told reporters on Sunday.

“It’s about being COVID-safe and it’s about taking these steps … so that we can actually see the Australian Open happen.”

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea and France’s Alize Cornet have both suggested they were previously told only those within the same section of the positive case would go into lockdown, not the entire flight.

Ms Cassar said Victorian authorities had not been liaising directly with players, but made the rules clear to Tennis Australia.

“Those rules haven’t changed,” she said.

Despite some of the affected players complaining of unequal practice time, Ms Cassar insists the decision won’t be reversed.

“The program is set up to keep people safe,” she said.

“We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.”

Open players, staff and officials were sternly warned they could be moved to a more secure hotel as two guests were scolded for breaches.

A player opened his door to try to have a conversation with a training partner down the hallway, while a non-player shouted Uber Eats to others on the floor and opened the door to “praise his great efforts”.

Ms Cassar said the pair had been formally warned and she is considering transferring persistent breachers to a medi-hotel where they’ll have a police officer stationed outside their room.

“It is really low-level, but really dangerous acts which we can’t tolerate,” she said.

The Australian Open broadcast team member’s case was among seven new overseas acquired infections reported in Victoria on Sunday.

All test results from the international tennis cohort were expected to be returned by 3.30pm and will feature in Monday’s figures.

From just over 11,000 tests results received in the 24 hours to Sunday, Victoria recorded its 11th consecutive day without a locally acquired case.

It comes as Greater Brisbane’s travel risk rating was downgraded from “red” to “orange” on Saturday evening, allowing stranded Victorians to cross the border with a permit.

There were 20,435 permits issued in the 24 hours to 8am on Sunday as part of the state’s “traffic light” system, with the health department reporting an immediate spike in applications after the downgrade.

Those stuck in Sydney have been given hope they will soon be able to return home as well, with Premier Daniel Andrews flagging on Saturday that he was preparing to dramatically reduce the red zone in NSW.

But no announcement was forthcoming on Sunday, as NSW reported six new locally acquired cases.

It comes as private workplaces prepare to return to 50 per cent capacity from Monday, while public service offices are able to ramp up to 25 per cent.

Mask rules will also ease to pre-Christmas levels, making them only mandatory in some settings.

Australian Associated Press



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Coronavirus updates LIVE: Australian Open under COVID-19 cloud after more positive tests; MPs call on government to lift travel cap for stranded Australians; India begins vaccinations



Dozens of Australian Open players will be forced to quarantine for 14 days – without training – after new tournament arrivals tested positive for COVID-19.

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Almost 50 Australian Open players in strict quarantine after coronavirus case on second flight


The Australian Open lead-up has been thrown into chaos with at least 47 players now confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days following three positive coronavirus tests from two separate charter flights into Melbourne.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber and 2019 US Open title holder Bianca Andreescu are among the players affected.

An aircrew member and a non-playing participant tested positive following their arrival on the flight from Los Angeles on Friday morning, initially leaving Azarenka among 24 players having to quarantine.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is said to be among a group of players set to be confined to their hotel rooms over two coronavirus cases.

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But the situation quickly escalated, with Tennis Australia on Saturday evening confirming another positive COVID-19 test returned from a passenger on a charter flight into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi.

TA said that flight included 23 players, meaning 47 players will now be out of action for at least a fortnight and until they are medically cleared.

“Any players and support people will not be able to leave quarantine to attend training,” the Victorian government’s COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) body confirmed.

“Players are being supported to access equipment for their hotel rooms to help them maintain their fitness during this time.”

Players were originally given an exemption to leave their quarantine hotel to train for up to five hours a day, however an email from TA confirmed all who were aboard the flights would now be in hard lockdown.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley issued a statement about the Los Angeles flight after an email sent to players had initially circulated about the incident.

A screenshot of an email sent to players was posted on social media.

A screenshot of an email sent to players was posted on social media.

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“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” Mr Tiley said.

TA later confirmed details of a second flight from Abu Dhabi with 64 people, 23 of whom were players.

“All passengers from the flight are already in quarantine hotels and the positive case, who is not a player and had tested negative before the flight, has been transferred to a health hotel,” the statement read.

As well as Azarenka who won the Australian title in 2012 and ’13, American Sloane Stephens and Japanese star Kei Nishikori were also on the Los Angeles flight, while Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur and Belinda Bencic where among others to come from Abu Dhabi.

Nishikori had COVID back in August.

American Tennys Sandgren, who was cleared to fly when his recent positive test was deemed to be viral shedding, was also believed to be on board the Los Angeles flight. But he is not linked to the new positives.

Two months ago, when pushing for relaxed border restrictions in Australia and a special player bubble, Mr Tiley said players simply would not agree to a fortnight in isolation without being able to train.

“If a player has to quarantine and be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen,” Mr Tiley told AAP in mid-October.

“You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a grand slam.”

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSWVictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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Coronavirus cases after Australian Open chartered flights into Melbourne force players into strict quarantine


Dozens of players who flew into Melbourne for the Australian Open will be confined to their rooms and unable to train for 14 days after passengers on two charter flights tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 120 people, including 47 players, have been counted as close contacts of the three positive cases, who arrived on charter flights into Victoria from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi on Friday morning.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, three-time grand slam winner Angelique Kerber, 2019 US Open title holder Bianca Andreescu, 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens and Japanese star Kei Nishikori, as well as Mexican player Santiago Gonzalez and Uruguayan player Pablo Cuevas, arrived on the flight from Los Angeles.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur and Belinda Bencic and Marta Kostyuk were among the players to arrive from the United Arab Emirates.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria confirmed on Saturday that there were two cases on QR7493 from the United States — an aircrew member and a tournament participant who is not a player — and another non-player on EY8004 from the United Emirates.

All three passengers returned a negative result after pre-departure tests, but have now been transferred to a “health hotel” after returning positive tests for COVID-19.

The 63 other passengers from the Abu Dhabi flight, as well as 66 passengers from the Los Angeles flight, are now considered close contacts and must self-isolate for two weeks.

“Any players and support people will not be able to leave quarantine to attend training,” a CQV spokesperson said.

Under quarantine conditions ahead of the grand slam next month, COVID-negative players are allowed out of their hotel room for up to five hours each day to train.

“Players are being supported to access equipment for their hotel rooms to help them maintain their fitness during this time,” the CQV spokesperson said.

International arrivals with COVID-19 are taken to the “health hotel” at the Holiday Inn.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said organisers are working to ensure players know what to expect.

“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” he said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them well for their recovery.”

But after news of the positive test on the second flight, France’s world number 53 Alizé Cornet, who was not on the charter from Abu Dhabi, suggested the players were not aware the whole flight would be forced to quarantine if there was a positive case.

“We’ve been told that the plane would be separated by section of 10 people and that if one person of your section was positive, then you had to isolate. Not that the whole plane had to,” she tweeted.

Cornet said it was possible that half the players in the tournament would need to self-isolate, and that the measures were “not made to hold an international tennis event”.

“Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to COVID in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry, but this is insane,” she tweeted.

Victoria recorded three new coronavirus cases on Friday, all in hotel quarantine, including the air crew member.

The remaining flight crew from the Friday morning flight tested negative, the CQV spokesperson said. They were allowed to fly out of Melbourne on a crew-only flight at 7:00am on Saturday.

Some 1,240 players and support staff began arriving into Melbourne this week ahead of the tournament, and are being housed in special quarantine hotels.

They are required to return a negative COVID-19 test before flying into Australia, and are tested at the start and end of their 14-day quarantine.

People who test positive are moved into a health hotel and must be medically cleared before leaving quarantine.

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Australian Open 2021: Forty-seven players to quarantine in Melbourne after Covid cases on flights


Hotels in Melbourne are preparing to quarantine players arriving from abroad

Forty-seven players will be confined to hotel rooms before the Australian Open after other passengers on their flights tested positive for coronavirus.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens are reportedly among those affected.

The players will not be able to leave their hotel rooms for a fortnight, while their rivals are allowed five hours of daily practice on court.

Australia has given 1,200 people permission to travel to the tournament.

The players affected were on two flights, arriving from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi respectively. Two people – a member of the flight crew and a person in a player’s travelling entourage – tested positive on the Los Angeles flight.

There was one positive test from the Abu Dhabi flight, from an individual who had previously tested negative before boarding.

Those who tested positive will stay in a separate “health hotel”.

“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible,” said tournament director Craig Tiley.

The tournament is the first of tennis’ four annual Grand Slams. Unlike the other three, it was unaffected by the pandemic in 2020.

Organisers have pushed back the start date of this year’s edition by three weeks and staged qualifiers in Doha in an attempt to minimise the risk to public health.

Victoria Azarenka and Li Na
Victoria Azarenka, left, beat Li Na to win back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2013

It has been reported that quarantined players in Melbourne will have gym equipment delivered to their rooms, and they have access to a 24/7 medical hotline if they are concerned they may have developed symptoms.

Azarenka, who won the Melbourne Park title in 2012 and 2013, struck a positive tone on social media.

The Belarussian posted a message on Twitter external-linkafter arriving in Australia saying: “If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.”

Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas confirmed that he had been on the flight, external-linkpromising to show his Instagram followers his hotel-room workouts during the next fortnight.

American Tennys Sandgren, who was granted special permission to travel after his positive test was deemed to be the result of ‘viral-shedding’ from a previous case rather than a new infection, is also believed to have been on the flight.

Stephens revealed on social media earlier this weekexternal-link that both her grandmother and aunt had recently died after contracting coronavirus.

British former world number one Andy Murray tested positive last week but says he is in good health and hopes to compete. American Madison Keys pulled out last week after she tested positive.

The tournament begins on 8 February, giving the players on the affected flight players fewer than 10 days of on-court practice before action gets under way.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

The 47 players affected may now have just one day’s practice before the raft of warm-up events begins at Melbourne Park on 31 January.Working out in a hotel room is no substitute for on-court work, so these players are likely to be at a disadvantage when the Australian Open gets under way.Two players have already criticised the decision to prevent anyone on the affected flights leaving their room for 14 days.Alize Cornet of Franceexternal-link says it is “insane” to allow weeks of hard work to go to “waste for one person positive to Covid in a 3/4 empty plane”.And Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens has described the whole process as “Russian roulette”. She claims players were given the impression they would only be considered a close contact if they were in the same section of the plane as an infected person.

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Residents tour Lavington Sports Ground facilities during community open day | The Border Mail


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After having a tour of Lavington Sports Ground, Albury youngster Tom Wheatley can’t wait to be able to test it out for himself. Tom and his dad, Justin, were among Border residents to take advantage of the community open day at the Sports Ground on Saturday, which showcased the new indoor facilities to the public for the first time. Change rooms, function rooms and the coaches box were some of the areas those on the tours could catch a glimpse of. “It’s pretty impressive,” Mr Wheatley said. “I think they’ve done a great job of updating the facilities.” Tom came prepared with his cricket gear in hand and hopes to be able to play football on the field soon. “I just started playing footy last year with full on tackles,” he said. Albury City leisure facility officer Jack Bradley said the community had responded positively to the $19.6 million redevelopments. “The feedback from the community coming in is pretty much just ‘wow,” Mr Bradley said. “With the ceiling to wall glass there’s been a bit of a wow factor there. IN OTHER NEWS: “I know it’s been a long process, but they can see what they’ve got now and everyone’s really positive. “We’re all really excited about it, so it’s great to show the rest of the community now.” AFLW side Greater Western Sydney have just tested out the new facilities for training during their two-week stay on the Border. “The feedback from them was phenomenal” Mr Bradley said. “They couldn’t fault anything.” The next test will now be hosting AFL clubs Richmond and Western Bulldogs for a pre-season clash on February 27. Mr Bradley said crowd capacity will be looked at, with tickets to go on sale two weeks prior to the game. “We have discussions with AFL next week to see what kind of COVID environment we’ll be working under for that game,” he said. “I’d certainly encourage Bulldogs and Richmond supporters not to wait because it certainly will sell out. “It’ll be the first elite match we’ve hosted, so we’re excited to show it off.” School carnivals and university competitions will also be a priority for the Lavington facility, which now has the flexibility of two grounds. Further work will start this week on concrete tiered seating for the second field. Another community open day is scheduled for Thursday, January 28.

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US Masters, US Open champion arrested in Brazil after Interpol red notice, faces extradition to Argentina over charges


The Argentine newspaper Clarín reported last week that Cabrera, 51, nicknamed “El Pato” (“The Duck”), had until recently been in the US on a tourist visa. He had wrist surgery there in October, Clarín reported. But Cabrera’s visa was set to expire, and he couldn’t renew it because of his presence on the Interpol list.

It’s unclear whether US authorities were searching for Cabrera while he was in the country. Comment had been sought from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.

The US has an extradition agreement with Argentina. However, a Justice Department document states that federal law “prohibits the arrest of the subject of a Red Notice issued by another INTERPOL member country, based upon the notice alone” because it does not meet probable-cause standards for arrest under the Fourth Amendment.

Instead, a foreign country must submit an extradition request to the US State Department, which then must decide whether to pass the request on to the Justice Department, the agency responsible for executing the extradition.

An email to the State Department asking whether Argentina had requested that Cabrera be extradited from the US was not immediately returned.

Cabrera is the only South American golfer to win the US Open or Masters. (He also lost in a sudden-death play-off at Augusta to Australian Adam Scott in 2013). But he has played sparingly in recent years, and his last appearance was a withdrawal after two rounds of the Pure Insurance Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event for golfers 50 and older in September.

Cabrera did not play in this year’s rescheduled Masters in November, citing the wrist injury.

Washington Post

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