SYDNEY: Tennis players arriving for tournaments in Australia may be able to compete during their mandatory two-week coronavirus quarantine, the country’s tennis chief has said.
Australia’s strict virus border controls require international arrivals to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine, with most non-citizens shut out altogether.
But in a letter to players, CEO Craig Tiley said Tennis Australia was working with the government to ensure all players would be able to train during the isolation period.
Australia usually stages a number of tennis tournaments in January, culminating in the Australian Open which is the first Grand Slam of the year.
“We are working with the government to ensure that all players will be able to train and prepare for events during this quarantine period,” Tiley wrote. “We will continue to keep you updated on any changes, including the possibility of being able to compete during the two-week period.”
Quarantine hubs for players will be established across ‘a number’ of Australian cities from early December, Tiley added.
Melbourne, which is due to host the Australian Open from Jan 18 to 31, has been in lockdown since early July to curb a second-wave coronavirus outbreak.
Some restrictions, including an overnight curfew, were eased Monday as case numbers fell to single digits for the first time since mid-June.
Tiley’s letter was revealed by Slovak player Lukas Lacko, who tweeted it adding that the Open ‘will be fun I guess’.
Tennis Australia said in a statement that it was involved in ‘productive discussions’ about quarantine for players.
“There are many productive discussions taking place with government on the logistics around player arrival and quarantine,” the statement said.
Tiley told the players that the tennis schedule was still being finalised, but officials hoped to provide ‘more opportunities’ for players to compete during the traditional four-week period in Australia.
He encouraged players to arrive before Dec 14 and said Tennis Australia was negotiating with commercial airlines to ensure enough flights would be available.
This year’s Australian Open build-up events included the ATP Cup men’s team competition and women’s tournaments in Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide.
The 2020 tennis schedule has been badly disrupted by Covid-19, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II and the US Open staged behind closed doors.
The delayed French Open is currently taking place in front of small numbers of fans in Paris.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020