Melbourne: Players were isolating and getting tested for Covid-19 instead of playing tune-up tournaments four days before the Australian Open as concern grew over the impact on the year’s first tennis major.
All competition at six tournaments scheduled for Thursday was called off overnight and 520 people who flew to Melbourne for the Australian Open were ordered to isolate in their accommodation and get tested after a man who worked at one of the quarantine hotels until last Friday tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Monday, and preparations have already been disruptive and chaotic.
All players and their entourages and everyone else flew into Australia for the tournament had to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine. Of those, 72 players were forced into hard lockdown after passengers on their charter flights later returned positive tests for the virus.
Anyone connected with the tournament and who quarantined at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Melbourne were deemed to be casual contacts of the 26-year-old infected man and were undergoing testing at a dedicated facility.
Allen Cheng, Victoria state’s deputy chief health officer, said authorities were being extra cautious.
Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said in news conference late Wednesday that he didn’t expect the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open to impacted, although he has added that it’s an unfolding situation.
He said the late-night announcement of the positive case was done “through an abundance of caution.”
Andrews on Thursday confirmed close family contacts of the infected worker had tested negative for Covid-19 and contact tracing was advanced.
Everyone in the city will be required to wear masks while indoors.
The latest coronavirus restrictions could test the resolve of players who have recently come out of two weeks in quarantine.
It will also give ammunition to critics of the government decision to allow people to fly in from all over the world at a time when coronavirus cases were surging in some countries but under control in Australia.
Australian Open organizers didn’t immediately have details of how many players were ordered to isolate.
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