LONDON: ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev says players health will be at risk if quarantine restrictions prevent them from playing or practising in the run-up to the Australian Open.
Organisers are in talks with the Victoria state government over the protocols to be put in place for those arriving in Australia for the first Grand Slam of the year.
State officials said on Wednesday the Melbourne Park tournament would go ahead, though it would likely take place a week or two after the scheduled date and that players would have to undergo quarantine.
“I’m going to go to Australia when we can to avoid any circumstances that would change your mind about competing there,” world number four Medvedev told CNN. “If, for instance, you weren’t able to compete or to train during quarantine just ahead of the tournament, I don’t think the tournament is going to happen.”
Organisers of this year’s US and French Opens established bio-secure ‘bubbles’ for players, who were not allowed to leave their hotel rooms except to train and play.
Medvedev said it would be ‘dangerous’ for players to be confined to a hotel room for two weeks after arriving in Australia and then going straight into a Grand Slam.
“I’m not complaining that it’s boring or something like this,” the Russian added. “It’s just that going out from the room after 14 days of not doing anything and [then] playing five sets right away, I think would be really dangerous for the health of any sportsman.”
Due to border restrictions between states and varied quarantine requirements by local governments across the country, Tennis Australia plans to shift all build-up tournaments leading to the Grand Slam to Victoria.
Andy Murray told British media that players faced a ‘tricky’ decision over whether to travel to Australia and said he would support mandatory vaccination for competitors at tournaments next year.
The Australian Open will likely be delayed by one to two weeks, officials said on Wednesday, as talks continue over staging the tournament in Melbourne, which has only recently emerged from months of coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.
A delay for a week or two to the first Grand Slam of the year, scheduled to begin on Jan 18, was now ‘most likely’, said Martin Pakula, the Sports Minister of the Victoria State government.
“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay,” Pakula said.
The ‘very complex negotiations’ were still under way but he remained confident it would go ahead in the early part of 2021.
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley had originally wanted players to start arriving in Australia from mid-December so they could undergo a 14-day quarantine before playing traditional warm-up events.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2020