Three more Covid-19 cases linked to Australian Open arrivals

PTI Melbourne | Updated on January 19, 2021

Australian Open is scheduled to begin on February 28

Australian Open tournament Director, Craig Tiley, has ruled out any change in the best-of-five set format for men’s singles matches at the season-opening tennis major as three more Covid-19 cases were reported among the international arrivals for the tournament.

There are 72 players now in quarantine and unable to practice because of nine active Covid-19 cases — an increase in three — among the incoming travelers to Melbourne.

There was no immediate indication from health officials on Tuesday that there would be any increase in the number of affected players.

Players may be allowed to leave their rooms for practice before the 14-day hard quarantine period.

More than 1,200 players, coaches, staff, officials and media have arrived on 17 charter flights since last Thursday to prepare for the Australian Open, which starts February 8. Covid-19 cases have been linked to three flights, from Abu Dhabi, Doha, Qatar and Los Angeles.

‘Non-infectious shedding’

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said that some of the cases linked to the tournament will be reclassified as “non-infectious shedding,” potentially allowing changes for some players in lockdown.

“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 a historic shedding, well that would release those people from that hard lockdown,” Andrews said.

Tiley, appearing on Nine Network television on Tuesday, rejected calls from some men’s players to reduce Australian Open matches to best-of-three sets instead of best of five.

“We’re a Grand Slam,” Tiley said. “Right now, three out of five sets for the men and two out of three sets for the women is the position we plan on sticking to.” Some players have used social media to detail their perceived hardships of being in lockdown.

The season-opening Grand Slam event was delayed for three weeks because of the pandemic.

Mandatory quarantine

Australia’s international borders are mostly closed, although there are exemptions in special circumstances. All arrivals must do mandatory quarantine. Each of Australia’s states and territories has its own border and travel restrictions, and those can change on very short notice.

Victoria state, which has Melbourne as its capital, accounted for 810 of Australia’s 909 deaths from Covid-19, most of those during a deadly second wave three months ago which resulted in curfews and lockdowns for the city.

Published on January 19, 2021

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