Tennis players have reacted angrily to the news that they are facing 14 days stuck in their hotel rooms with no practise, after people on their charter flights to Australia returned positive COVID-19 tests.
However, some players, Tennis Australia and state government body COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria maintain it was made clear to players that they could be stuck in such circumstances should anyone on their flights have the virus upon testing in Australia.
British tennis player Johanna Konta completes a gym workout in hotel quarantine.Credit:Instagram
Players such as Belinda Bencic, Alize Cornet, Sorana Cirstea and Yulia Putintseva claimed they did not know about this rule, and indicated they were under the impression hard lockdown would only be imposed for those sitting close to them on their socially distanced charter flights.
Some 100 players and tournament staff are in hard lockdown because of the positive tests, with the two more cases identified on Sunday bringing the total to four positive tests from the 1000 people in the country for the grand slam.
One was a US broadcaster and the other the coach of Bianca Andreescu.
Russian world No.28 Putintseva wrote on Twitter: "What I don't understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated. I would think twice before coming here".
Romanian world No.71 Cirstea replied to Putintseva saying "if they told us this rule before I would not play Australia. I would have stayed home. They told us we would … be a close contact only if my team or cohort [those sitting close by on a flight] tests positive".
Swiss world No.11 Bencic wrote on Twitter "Actually no we didn't [know what we signed up for], we made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about".
Cornet, who is not in hard lockdown, wrote in a since-deleted tweet "Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate.
"Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to COVID in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane."
But Russian-born New Zealand doubles players Artem Sitak, who is in 14 days' hard lockdown, disputed those claims.
"I want to clarify something – we had a call with Tennis Australia about a month ago and not a lot of players were on the call, which was surprising to me, but hey, that's how it was," Sitak said in a video on his Instagram.
"So basically, the organisers, they told us the risks that we're going to be undertaking and they did mention that if somebody tests positive on the flight it's going to be up to the health authorities to decide whether to quarantine all the flight or just isolate compartments of the plane.
"I think we need to put some things into perspective where a lot of Australians right now cannot get back home because of restrictions and we, as foreigners of over a thousand people in Australia, we are going to be competing in a grand slam earning a lot of money."
Like Sitak, there were plenty of players in lockdown who decided to get on with their preparations despite the limitations of their accommodation.
Journeyman Pablo Cuevas shared a video of him whacking tennis balls into his upturned mattress in his hotel room.
He then placed it back on its base with wheels and stood atop it as if he were in the Australian surf.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil is also confined to his room for 14 days, and he shared video of himself enduring a gruelling workout in his room.
"Now I am tuning into a Tennis Australia update on what the situation is for the players like myself that are in this two-week quarantine isolation," he said while showing the meeting happening on his laptop.
Bencic hit balls at her hotel room window overlooking Southbank while Putintseva hit balls against her wall.
Players in hard lockdown also include Heather Watson, Kei Nishikori, Santiago Gonzalez, Paula Badosa, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber.
Other players – such as Pablo Carreno Busta, Marco Cecchinato and Fabio Fognini – also took to social media to complain about the food they were served in their hotels.
They are however allowed to order Uber Eats to reception, for hotel staff to then bring to their rooms.
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