Belarus star Victoria Azarenka calls for calm amid Australian Open quarantine wildfire

Paola Ditto
Gennaio 24, 2021

Australian media decried Djokovic's request as selfish, showing images of him not wearing a mask in a players' minibus.

His suggestions were rebuffed by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, and earned Djokovic criticism from Australia's Nick Kyrgios, who branded the Serbian a "tool". Some pointed out that the host city of Melbourne had endured a gruelling four-month lockdown previous year after a virus outbreak.

Four coronavirus cases have been detected from charter flights carrying tennis players, coaches and officials to Melbourne for the Australian Open, forcing 47 players into strict hotel quarantine.

"Now we have to manage an environment over the next 14 days for those who won't be able to practice", Tiley said, via The Associated Press.

As well as Azarenka who won the title in 2012 and '13, American Sloane Stephens and Japanese star Kei Nishikori were also on the flight.

The email read: 'Unfortunately we have been informed by the health authorities that two people on your flight from LAX that arrived at 5.15am on Friday 15 January have returned positive COVID-19 PCR tests on arrival to Melbourne.

"There's still plenty of time for the two weeks, plenty of time for two weeks of quarantine and a buffer that's built-in before February 8 before the tournament starts".

Current arrangements in place with Tennis Australia allow for incoming players to complete their quarantine and train outside for five hours a day, providing they return a negative test.

'All passengers from the flight are already in quarantine hotels, ' the Australian Open said in a statement.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has taken a shot at player who have complained about strict quarantine measures before the Australian Open, arguing all players were informed of the potential to be labelled "close contacts". "This is the contribution that they have to make in order to get the privilege of when they do come out to compete for $80 million ($62 million U.S.) in prize money".

"There's no special treatment here".

"They've had very different experiences with different cities around the world".

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is imploring her lock-downed tennis colleagues to show some empathy for Victorians.

"People are free to provide lists of demands". So the notion that there's been any change, the notion that people weren't briefed - I think that that argument really has no integrity whatsoever.

On Sunday, Tiley told Australia's Nine Network that organizers and players were forewarned there'd be a "significant risk" of restrictions being imposed on players if there were positive for Covid-19. That positive test did not come from a player, but all 58 people on the flight - which included 25 players - must now quarantine for two weeks.

"The Australian Open is going ahead and we will continue to do the best we possibly can do to ensure those players have the best opportunity".

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