Dozens of players stuck in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open were told they would get no “special treatment” to leave their rooms to train, despite complaints from some players including World No 1 Novak Djokovic. Here’s a look at the updates….
The players in isolation resorted to hitting balls off windows, walls and upturned beds in the hope of being ready for the year’s first Grand Slam. A total of 72 players, deemed close contacts of the four Covid-19 cases, have been barred from leaving their hotel rooms for 14 days. New Zealand player Artem Sitak said he could hear tennis balls hitting the walls “everywhere” in his hotel as players embraced “creative” forms of exercise.
Djokovic — who arrived on a virus-free flight and is being allowed to train in a bio-secure bubble — reportedly sent a list of demands to tournament organisers that included allowing players to move to private homes with tennis courts. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews smashed back that request, saying authorities would not bend strict health rules. “There’s no special treatment here. Because the virus doesn’t treat you specially, so neither do we,” he said.
Respite for some
The majority of players, including Djokovic, are allowed out to train for five hours a day, unlike other returned travellers who are confined to their hotel rooms. Andrews said all players knew about Australia’s strict quarantine rules ahead of their flights. “The notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever,” he said.
Organisers face backlash
The arrangements have sparked a backlash in Australia, with some social media users questioning why more than 1,000 players and staff were flown in for the sporting event, when tens of thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas.