Australia defends strict isolation for tennis players ahead of grand slam

Sydney, Australia, Jan 17 (efe-epa).- The Australian authorities on Sunday defended anti-Covid-19 measures enforced against at least 47 tennis players and their entourages upon their arrival in the country ahead of the Australian Open.

This includes confining players to their hotel rooms for 14 days with no chance to train for the year’s first grand slam that begins on Feb. 8, after positive cases were detected among passengers on international flight arrivals.

“These procedures are in place to keep people safe,” said Emma Cassar, commissioner for COVID-19 quarantine in the state of Victoria, the capital of which is Melbourne, where the tournament is held. She stressed there would be “zero tolerance” and strong action taken against those trying to bypass the measures.

At least four people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus on flights from abroad and on which some of the athletes were traveling.

Although none of those who have tested positive are players, at least 47 participants of the Australian Open, regarded to have come into close contact with those infected, will have to overcome the hurdles posed by strict isolation, raising strong objections among the tennis community.

“If you’re on a plane for 16, 24 hours with air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact,” underlined the commissioner.

The athletes are now required to spend two weeks in quarantine without leaving their room.

Those who have not shared a flight with people who tested positive are allowed out of quarantine for five hours a day to train, according to the rules of the tournament.

Between Thursday and Saturday, more than 1,000 tennis players and their entourages arrived in Australia, said Cassar.

Tournament Director Craig Tiley told local broadcaster Channel 9 that the tournament will be conducted without any delay, and start on Feb. 8 as scheduled.

He added that they were aware of the risks posed by the pandemic while organizing the competition.

Melbourne, which went through a second lockdown between July and November, was the epicenter of the most virulent wave of Covid-19 infections in the country and which was blamed on lax quarantine hotel security. EFE-EPA


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