Two players test positive in fresh blow to Australian Open - GulfToday

Two players test positive in fresh blow to Australian Open

Storm Sanders

Tennis player Storm Sanders (centres) walks back to the hotel after a training session in Melbourne on Tuesday. Reuters

Two Australian Open tennis players have tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said on Tuesday, in a new blow for the tournament which is facing a backlash from a wary public.

The unnamed players were among three new cases -- a woman in her 20s and two men in their 30s -- taking the tournament’s cluster to seven, Victoria state’s health authority said.

More than 1,000 players and staff are in quarantine after arriving last week in Australia, which is largely coronavirus-free. Three of the 17 charter flights had positive cases on board.

The delayed Grand Slam has proved an enormous undertaking and is provoking disquiet among Australians, especially in host city Melbourne which emerged from a four-month lockdown in October.

Player complaints about quarantine have raised hackles further and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios led criticism of world number one Novak Djokovic for requesting improved conditions.

“Djokovic is a tool,” tweeted Kyrgios, the world number 47.

World number 13 Roberto Bautista Agut also told a TV station that quarantine was like prison “with wifi”, calling the arrangements a “complete disaster”.

However, tournament organisers insisted most players accepted their isolation without complaint.

“Actually embarrassed to be a tennis player these days,” tweeted Australia’s Arina Rodionova, while two-time Australian Open winner Viktoria Azarenka asked her fellow competitors for “cooperation, understanding and empathy for the local community”.

At least 72 players have been barred from leaving their rooms for two weeks after cases were detected on their charter flights.

Players like Storm Sanders, who have completed quarantine, have been allowed to train.

The others can train for up to five hours a day under strictly controlled conditions. A series of warm-up events will be held after the quarantine period, before the Australian Open starts on Feb.8.

Djokovic, the reigning Australian Open champion, is among a select group of stars -- including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal -- flown into Adelaide to enjoy better facilities such as hotel rooms with balconies, unlike the majority quarantining in Melbourne.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion sent a letter to Tennis Australia that reportedly called for players to be moved into private homes with tennis courts and get better meals, among other requests.


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