A further 25 players have been forced into hard lockdown for two weeks prior to the Australian Open, tournament organizers have confirmed.
Tennis’ season-opening Grand Slam tournament was plunged into crisis Saturday when it was announced 47 players would be consigned to their hotel rooms for 14 days and not eligible to practice.
Officials said the protocols were as a result of two passengers testing positive for the coronavirus on a flight from Los Angeles that arrived Friday morning, along with another passenger who flew in from Abu Dhabi.
That affected 24 players aboard the LA flight and 23 on the plane from Abu Dhabi, while another positive test for a passenger arriving in Melbourne from Doha on Saturday morning has taken the total number of players affected to 72.
The Australian Open released the below statement:
About 1,200 players and staff have been arriving in Melbourne on sparsely populated airplanes ahead of the delayed Australian Open, which is due to get underway Feb. 8.
Speaking on Saturday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley insisted the tournament would be going ahead despite the chaos and the lack of preparation time for many of the playing contingent.
“It’s not something we wanted to happen,” he told Australia’s “The Today Show.” “We were hoping every flight would be OK. We’re in this situation, we have to deal with it.
“The Australian Open is going ahead and we’ll continue to do the best we can possibly do to ensure those players, who are not in a great position, find it somewhat acceptable.
“We’re planning on Feb. 8, we do have that buffer time in there. We’re looking forward to welcoming fans to the Australian Open. Ticket sales have been going well, we’ve got two weeks of great tennis and our intention is to continue with those dates.”