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.
“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.”