No less than 47 players, including defending champion Sofia Kenin (pictured) will have to be confined to their hotel room in strict quarantine after positive tests on planes specially chartered for them to transport them to Melbourne.
“If we do, it will be a little miracle,” said tournament director Craig Tiley. The fortnight of players has barely started when the Covid-19 pandemic has already disrupted the tournament, which will kick off in three weeks (from February 8 to 21). As a reminder, 18 planes have been chartered for the players and their staff. Planes filled only to 20% of their capacity. And yet a single case was enough to trigger the mandatory quarantine procedure. Positive cases were thus announced in two planes reserved exclusively for players. 79 people were in the one from Los Angles including 24 players including Victoria Azarenka, winner of the 2012 and 2013 editions, Kei Nishikori or Sloane Stephens. They had the bad luck to travel with two people who tested positive for Covid-19 …
A few minutes later, positive cases were also announced in a second plane coming from Abu Dhabi, which carried leading players, such as defending champion Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu, Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber. “There were 64 people on this flight, including 23 players. The 23 affected players will not be able to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days and until they are medically cleared to do so. They will not be allowed to train, ”said a tournament statement about the second flight.
The 47 players who boarded these planes will therefore be placed in strict confinement in their hotel rooms and will not be able to set foot on the courts before January 31 … Initially, they could have five hours of training a day. training in view of the first round of the year of the Grand Slam. What made Alizé Cornet react on twitter : “Soon, half of AO’s players will have to actually isolate themselves. Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work are going to be wasted for a Covid positive person on a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane ”.
Sure Twitter, the Spaniard Paula Badosa, who is one of the unlucky 47, did not hide her frustration: “At the beginning, the rule was to know who was in the part of the plane where this person was who was to be put in. quarantine. Not the whole plane. It’s not fair to change the rules at the last moment. And to have to stay in a windowless and airless room ”. A tweet that has been removed from his official account.