The start of the Australian Open originally scheduled on Jan. 18, has been moved to Feb. 8, as 47 players who arrived in Melbourne have to stay quarantined. Although the arriving players had tested negative when they boarded their respective plane, some non-player passengers tested positive of COVID-19 upon arrival in Melbourne.
While it is a good thing that another test has to be taken upon arrival, the Australian Open still had to be cancelled despite the negative test results of the 47 players. Even before the incident, Tennis Australia (TA), the tournament organizers had already announced that all arriving players have to stay quarantined for 14 days, as this was a condition that TA negotiated with the Australian authorities.
Quarantined Players are Unhappy Over the Unexpected Development
The TA organizers already had a quarantine arrangement for the arriving players, which was supposed to give them five hours of daily practice during the week of warm-up tournaments leading to the grand slam event. To ensure players’ protection, the daily practices were to take place inside rigid biosecure bubbles, which are isolated environments cut off from the outside world to minimize any contact with other people.
However as the turns of events have it, the 47 players are currently individually quarantined in a designated health hotel in Melbourne. Contrary to what was originally planned, the players are not allowed to leave their rooms for 14 days straight, even for practice; and not until they receive medical clearance.
Several players are of course unhappy with the development as not having the chance to practice prior to the competition can certainly affect their performance. Alize Cornet of France tweeted saying that her hard work during weeks and weeks of practice will all go to waste just because one passenger onboard a near empty-plane had tested positive.
Sorana Cirstea, a Romanian tennis player who ranks No. 71 worldwide, also commented that the inability to practice prior to the tournament will great affect her ability to compete efficiently. Nonetheless, mindful that their posts are drawing negative feedback, Ms. Cirstea said she has no problem with staying inside her room for 14 days because going on a holiday not doing anything is a dream come true for her.
Still, she is already resigned to the fact that after staying on a couch watching Netflix for 14 straight days, the situation will prevent her from competing in the Australian Open. She added that she will need at least three weeks of practice to be able to get back into shape that will enable her to compete in a high-level tournament.
Actually, top seed tennis players, including Novak Djokovic, the current Australian Open champion, are telling organizers that they cannot expect the 47 players to go directly from quarantine to Grand Slam competitions.
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