Hundreds isolated, tested as Covid case rocks Australian Open build-up | Tennis News

2021-02-04 02:57:44

MELBOURNE: Six Australian Open warm-up events were on hold and hundreds of players and officials were in isolation Thursday as a fresh coronavirus case left organisers scrambling to ensure the Grand Slam tennis tournament goes ahead.
Health officials insisted the risk to players and officials was “low” after a staff member at one of the tournament’s designated hotels tested positive.
But Thursday’s play at six tournaments at Melbourne Park — five ATP and WTA warm-up tournaments, as well as the ATP Cup team event — was cancelled as a precaution.

The season’s first Grand Slam, starting Monday, has already had a rocky build-up after it was delayed three weeks to allow players to quarantine and play the warm-up tournaments.
Victoria state Health Minister Martin Foley said the 520 people ordered to isolate and get tested were casual contacts, stressing “we are not as concerned about them”.
“But out of an abundance of caution we want to ensure we leave no stone unturned in how we follow up and deal with anybody who may have had contact with this individual,” he said.
Dedicated facilities have been set up to ensure they all get tested quickly and can be back on court Friday, with results usually returned within 24 hours.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng concurred that the risk to them was “relatively low”.
It was not clear which players were affected although the biggest names of the game, including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will not be among them as they spent their mandatory 14 days’ quarantine in Adelaide.

Photo credit: AFP
More than 1,000 players, coaches and officials jetted into largely virus-free Australia last month.
Aggressive restrictions on incoming travel have helped keep the coronavirus at bay in Australia, making it one of the countries still able to have spectators at sports events.
Daily crowds of between 25,000 and 30,000 are expected at the Australian Open.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said late Wednesday he did not expect the scheduled start to be affected, although state opposition leader Michael O’Brien demanded a definitive call within 48 hours.
“We don’t want to see a situation as we did with the Grand Prix, where crowds were literally turning up, only to be turned away,” the Melbourne Herald Sun quoted O’Brien as saying.
“I think people are entitled to know what’s happening, and the government should be making their minds up in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Photo credit: AFP
Last year’s Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, the traditional season curtain-raiser, was cancelled just hours before the first practice session after a McLaren team member tested positive.
The late decision left fans fuming as they queued to get in.
Victoria had gone 28 days without a locally acquired infection before the latest case, which prompted a tightening of restrictions around wearing masks.
State authorities are extremely wary of coronavirus cases after Melbourne spent four months in lockdown until late October.

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