Tennis: Australian Open boss says 'vast majority' of players back hard quarantine

Ian Ransom, Reuters

Posted at Jan 19 2021 06:10 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2021 07:38 PM

Tennis: Australian Open boss says 'vast majority' of players back hard quarantine 1
Tennis balls are pictured in front of the Australian Open logo before the tennis tournament. File Photo. Thomas Peter, Reuters

MELBOURNE - Australian Open boss Craig Tiley said on Tuesday most players supported being locked down in hard quarantine as a government official reported three new cases of COVID-19 might be linked to the Grand Slam.

More than 70 players and their entourage are confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open after passengers on three charter flights returned positive tests for the coronavirus.

Some players have complained about the conditions, and men's world number one Novak Djokovic sent governing body Tennis Australia requests for quarantine restrictions to be eased, drawing a backlash from Australians.

Tiley said he had a call with 500 players to address concerns and the "vast majority" had been supportive of Australia's strict protocols.

"The vast majority, most of them have been fantastic and been supportive," Tiley told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

"(They) know that this is the contribution that they have to make in order to get the privilege of when they do come out to compete for A$80 million ($61.46 million) in prize money.

"So we will turn the corner on those few that don't have the right approach to this. But the rest have been really good."

Tiley, however, conceded that the 72 players in hard quarantine were at a disadvantage to rivals who arrived on other flights and can train up to five hours a day.

"Yes, it's not an even playing field as far as preparation goes but we're going to play our part to try to even it up as much as possible," he said.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews reported four new cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine on Tuesday and said three may be linked to Australian Open personnel.

The infections added to four linked to the tournament cohort on Monday.

Andrews told reporters some of the cases might be reclassified as "viral shedding" from historical infections, which could allow some players and officials to be released from hard quarantine.

"If you've got say 30 people who are deemed a close contact because they've been on a plane with a case, and the case is no longer an active case, but an historic shedding, well then, that would release those people from that hard lockdown," Andrews said.

($1 = 1.3017 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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