Australian Open 2021: Forty-seven players to quarantine in Melbourne after Covid cases on flights

bbc sport

Forty-seven players will be confined to hotel rooms before the Australian Open after other passengers on their flights tested positive for coronavirus.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens are reportedly among those affected.

The players will not be able to leave their hotel rooms for a fortnight, while their rivals are allowed five hours of daily practice on court.

Australia has given 1,200 people permission to travel to the tournament.

The players affected were on two flights, arriving from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi respectively. Two people – a member of the flight crew and a person in a player’s travelling entourage – tested positive on the Los Angeles flight.

There was one positive test from the Abu Dhabi flight, from an individual who had previously tested negative before boarding.

Those who tested positive will stay in a separate „health hotel“.

„We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible,“ said tournament director Craig Tiley.

It has been reported that the players will have gym equipment delivered to their rooms, and they have access to a 24/7 medical hotline if they are concerned they may have developed symptoms.

Azarenka, who won the Melbourne Park title in 2012 and 2013, struck a positive tone on social media.

The Belarussian posted a message on Twitter after arriving in Australia saying: „If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.“

Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas confirmed that he had been on the flight, promising to show his Instagram followers his hotel-room workouts during the next fortnight.

American Tennys Sandgren, who was granted special permission to travel after his positive test was deemed to be the result of ‘viral-shedding’ from a previous case rather than a new infection, is also believed to have been on the flight.

Stephens revealed on social media earlier this week that both her grandmother and aunt had recently died after contracting coronavirus.

British former world number one Andy Murray tested positive last week but says he is in good health and hopes to compete. American Madison Keys pulled out last week after she tested positive.

The tournament begins on 8 February, giving the players on the affected flight players fewer than 10 days of on-court practice before action gets under way.

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