COVID-19: Australian Open stalls as 47 tennis players go into isolation


By Muhaimin Olowoporoku

The 109th Australian Open tournament set to kick-start on February 8 has been hit with a major stumbling block. 47 players were not allowed to train after some passengers on two charter planes arriving in Melbourne returned positive Covid-19 test results.

24 players on a charter flight from the US to Melbourne are required to quarantine for two weeks after a member of the flight crew and a passenger tested positive in the flight.

Similarly, 23 other players are currently isolating following the arrival in Melbourne of a charter flight carrying 64 people from Abu Dhabi. One person tested positive after the flight, despite presenting documentation of a negative Covid-19 test prior to takeoff.

The affected players now would not be allowed to leave their hotel rooms for the 14-day period and until they are medically cleared. They will not be eligible to practice.

Originally scheduled to start this month, the tournament was rescheduled to February 8-21 because of Covid-19 concerns.

While most of the world’s top players have gone straight to Melbourne, others such as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams, flew to Adelaide.

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“SA Health has confirmed that there is no one who has an active COVID-19 infection in the entire tennis cohort based in Adelaide,” tweeted the Australian Open later on Saturday. “Testing will continue on a daily basis.”

Prior to Saturday’s developments, tournament organizers had said players would also “undergo a more rigorous testing schedule than most returning travelers.”