Australian Open players back each other to do ‘the right thing’ under COVID testing honour system

Tennis stars are increasing backing the “personal responsibility” ethos of the Australian Open’s voluntary COVID-19 testing system, which only mandates tests for symptomatic players.

World No.3 Alexander Zverev drew attention to the apparent lack of rigour in COVID testing at the tournament. Players and officials at Melbourne Park are issued with rapid antigen tests for daily testing. The system, however, is effectively an honour system with players not required to prove their negative status when they arrive on site.

Alexander Zverev.Credit:Getty Images

The German this week said he was living in Melbourne in a self-imposed bubble environment, restricting his movements between Melbourne Park and the main player hotel.

Australian Nick Kyrgios, who went into isolation and dropped out of the Sydney Tennis Classic after contracting the virus, called on his fellow players to do “the right thing”.

“All the players are obligated to test. They’re all being sent testing kits to test. And that’s what I did in Sydney, I tested every day, and obviously tested positive,” Kyrgios said after he was eliminated by Daniil Medvedev in a four-set second-round thriller.

“Like obviously me thinking – a week out of Australian Open – is this ideal? But that’s what everyone in Australia is doing right now, you [have to] test.

″⁣If you feel some symptoms, you should test. All the players are getting testing kits. You should be testing. [Everyone] should be doing the right thing.″⁣

Greek women’s star Maria Sakkari backed the procedures instigated by Tennis Australia.

Maria Sakkari in action against Veronika Kudermetova on Friday.Credit:Getty Images

“I think we are at the point where it’s not the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been almost two years,” said the fifth seed.

“These tests are very accurate. Players are responsible. We’re at the stage that we have to get our responsibility.

“I’m actually very, very supportive of the way they’re doing it here in Australia, in Melbourne.

“Tennis Australia is doing a great job. Actually, I’m very, you know, as I said, supportive.”

The Australian Open’s “safe player protocols” include the daily RATs, easy access to testing clinics for players on-site and at the main player hotel, a spokesperson said.

Wearing masks continues to be compulsory – including in the on-court player boxes – at all times except when playing, training, eating or drinking.

All visitors arriving for the Australian tennis summer had a mandatory PCR test on arrival and were required to have a second one between five and seven days later.

Andrey Rublev.Credit:Getty Images

Leading Russian player Andrey Rublev has revealed he entered Australia while he had COVID-19, but the world No.6 indicated his bout was “very low and not dangerous”.

“I am not being tested personally now because I just got over the coronavirus,” Rublev told European sports publication SportKlub.

“When I flew to Australia I was still positive, but the level of … I will not lie, it was very low and not dangerous. I was allowed to enter the country. In addition, I spent more than 10 days in quarantine.

”Maybe I would still be positive. But I’m not contagious and dangerous anymore. Because I was sick, I don’t do PCR testing anymore.“

Rublev withdrew from the ATP Cup after arriving in Australia but has reached the Australian Open third round and plays Marin Cilic at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

As daily testing is non-compulsory, Zverev said more players are likely to have COVID than are already known.

“And we are allowed to go outside to eat, allowed to do whatever we want, so I think it’s natural that more people get COVID,” Zverev said.

“My brother [Mischa Zverev], when he arrived, he had it. He was in quarantine in Sydney, and now he obviously doesn’t have it any more, but I think quite a few players had it when they arrived. Quite a few players I think have it now.

“We are not getting tested, so I think if we would get tested there would be probably more positives than there are now.”

Two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka, a member of the WTA players’ council, said it would be hard to find “middle ground” with requirements.

“We had it both ways. We had it with rigorous testing and people weren’t happy. Now it seems people are also somewhat not happy. I think it will be hard to find the middle ground. Hopefully, we will,” Azarenka said.

“I think it’s important, of course, to take your own responsibility for all the precautions, for all the measurements and for testing. That’s really where I stand.”

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