Tennis-Victoria govt confirms new COVID-19 case in Australian Open quarantine
The Victoria state government on Friday confirmed one new case of COVID-19 in the group of people in quarantine in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, a few hours after Spanish player Paula Badosa said she had tested positive for the virus. Badosa was the first player entered for next month's Grand Slam to confirm a positive test, although four were among the 10 cases announced earlier this week.Reuters | Updated: 22-01-2021 11:03 IST | Created: 22-01-2021 11:03 IST
The Victoria state government on Friday confirmed one new case of COVID-19 in the group of people in quarantine in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, a few hours after Spanish player Paula Badosa said she had tested positive for the virus.
Badosa was the first player entered for next month's Grand Slam to confirm a positive test, although four were among the 10 cases announced earlier this week. There has been confusion over the exact numbers, however, with several test results later reclassified by Victoria health authorities as "viral shedding" from previous infections.
Badosa, the world number 67, flew to Australia from Abu Dhabi and was halfway through her 14 days of quarantine when her test came back positive and she was moved to a "health hotel". "I'm feeling unwell and have symptoms, but I'll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors," the 23-year-old posted on Twitter.
While most of the players are able to train for up to five hours a day, as many as 72 players have been strictly confined to their hotel rooms after some passengers on the three charter flights that brought them to Australia tested positive. Badosa was one of those players who initially complained about the strict anti-virus curbs put in place by the local government for the participants.
"Please, don't get me wrong. Health will always come first and I feel grateful for being in Australia," she tweeted. "Quarantine and preventive measures are pivotal right now. I talked about rules that changed overnight but I understand the sad situation we are living. Sorry guys. Stay safe."
The Spanish tennis federation (RFET) on Thursday complained to tournament organisers about the treatment of two of those confined -- Spaniards Mario Vilella and Carlos Alcaraz. In a statement, the RFET said the players had not been informed that they would be strictly confined to their rooms if they were on a flight with someone who tested positive "regardless of the physical proximity".
The federation said it was clear that the duo would not be able to compete on "equal terms" at the Grand Slam and that the confinement could result in physical and psychological harm. "We ask Tennis Australia to try to solve the problem of the most affected tennis players," the statement concluded.
Tennis Australia was not immediately available for comment. Tournament boss Craig Tiley has already ruled out any change to format or dates for the hardcourt major. Six-times Grand Slam winner Boris Becker also questioned if the Australian Open will see fair competition.
"When they come out of quarantine, they haven't even been out in the fresh air, haven't played tennis," the two-time winner at Melbourne Park told Eurosport. "No matter how many steps they've taken in the room, they haven't played ball, and then they have a week to prepare for best-of-five matches, at least for the men, in the hot conditions."
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