Players in Strict Quarantine Before Aussie Open in 'Revolt'

Some participants are under more rigid lockdown orders than others due to positive COVID cases
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2021 8:36 AM CST
As Australia Preps for Tennis Open, a 'Growing Controversy'
Spain's Rafael Nadal, center, arrives at Adelaide Airport in Adelaide, Australia, on Thursday ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship.   (Morgan Sette/AAP Image via AP)

A "growing controversy" is brewing Down Under as the tennis world gears up for the Australian Open. The BBC reports three people have tested positive for COVID—two players and a "nonplaying participant," per Victoria state health officials—and quarantine protocols are frustrating players, while locals are spooked by having 1,200 out-of-towners in the area for the event that starts Feb. 8. Seventy-two players are now under strict lockdown in Melbourne after a handful of positive virus cases were logged on three international flights, meaning they're not allowed out of their hotel rooms for 14 days, not even to train. But not everyone is in Melbourne: Some of the biggest stars set to take part in the tournament—including Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic—are housed in Adelaide, where they're allowed out to train for up to five hours a day, per Yahoo Sports.

That discrepancy isn't going over well, with one tennis commentator saying it has spurred a "revolt" of sorts. Osaka in particular has raised some ire after putting up a since-deleted video showing herself and four members of her support team training on a court over the weekend. The New York Times notes that Serbia's Djokovic, who leads a players association, has since made a "series of demands" that would loosen some of these restrictions for players, but all those requests have done is irritate health officials and residents, who've been trying to keep their virus numbers down. "People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says. "There's no special treatment here." CNN notes that the mess in Australia could be a precursor to the challenges that the postponed Summer Olympics might face in Tokyo later this year. (More Australian Open stories.)

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