Australia Open warm-up events cancelled for Thursday after COVID-19 case

Australian Open organisers didn’t immediately provide details of how many players would have to isolate. But all competition at six tune-up events for the year's first Grand Slam scheduled for Thursday was called off.

The Associated Press February 03, 2021 20:53:26 IST
Australia Open warm-up events cancelled for Thursday after COVID-19 case

Spectators walk around Melbourne Park on Wednesday, a week before the first Grand Slam of the season. AP Photo

Melbourne: All competition at six Australian Open tuneup events scheduled for Thursday was called off and 520 people who flew to Melbourne for the year's first tennis major were ordered to isolate after a worker at one of the tournaments' quarantine hotels tested positive for COVID-19 .

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Monday. Any players, coaches or officials who quarantined at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Melbourne were deemed to be casual contacts of the 26-year-old infected man and required to remain in their accommodation until they test negative.

"We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible," Tennis Australia said in a statement announcing the postponement of all matches at Melbourne Park. A dedicated facility will be used to get players, coaches, officials and staff tested as quickly as possible.

Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said he called a late-night news conference Wednesday to announce the case "through an abundance of caution."

Speaking before all of Thursday's play was postponed, which he acknowledged was a possibility, Andrews said of the Australian Open: "At this stage, no impact on the tournament proper."

He held another news conference early Thursday local time, confirming close family contacts of the infected worker had tested negative and contact tracing was advanced.

Allen Cheng, the state's deputy chief health officer, said six people in the Grand Hyatt during the quarantine period for the Australian Open had tested positive and were transferred to a medical facility, and it was likely the man — a resident support officer — was infected there.

"We are aware that he was on a floor where there were cases," Cheng said.

Everyone in the city will be required to wear masks while indoors.

The hotel advertises it has 550 rooms, including 25 premium suites.

The latest coronavirus restrictions could test the resolve of players who have recently come out of two weeks in quarantine, and give ammunition to critics of the decision to allow people to fly in from all over the world for the year's first major.

Australian Open organisers didn't immediately have details of how many players were ordered to isolate.

Under the current plans, up to 30,000 spectators are expected daily at Melbourne Park for the two-week Grand Slam event and there was no immediate indication of a change.

Everyone who arrives in Australia must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine under the COVID-19 pandemic regulations. The Australian Open used three hotels in Melbourne for the bulk of the players to quarantine and had other secure accommodation and facilities in Adelaide, South Australia state, for some of the biggest stars, including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Players were tested every day during quarantine.

The infected worker tested negative on his last day at the hotel on Jan. 29, but subsequently tested positive and has been working with government and health officials on contact tracing.

"This is one case. There's no need for people to panic," Andrews said. "There's no need for people to be alarmed. We Victorians know what to do, and we have proven, as a state, very successful at managing these sorts of outbreaks, these sorts of issues."

Earlier Wednesday, Victoria health officials announced that the state had gone 28 days without a case involving local transmission.

Australia has 909 deaths attributed to COVID-19 , including 820 in Victoria state. Most of those were during a second deadly wave last year when a hard lockdown and overnight curfews were put in place in Melbourne.

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