Australian Open 2021: Kittens and puppies in bizarre tennis quarantine requests
Eight positive Covid-19 cases threw preparations into disarray with 72 players confined to their Melbourne hotel rooms 24 hours a day, sparking complaints about the tough conditions.
Melbourne: Tennis players forced into 14 days of coronavirus quarantine ahead of the Australian Open made some bizarre requests to get through their ordeal, including asking for kittens and puppies in their rooms.
Tournament chief Craig Tiley spent months organising bringing more than 1,000 players and support staff safely into the country and revealed that some oddball requests had added to the complicated logistics, without naming the players who made them.
"The most bizarre request was for a kitten in the lockdown room, and that wasn't once, that was several times," Tiley told broadcaster ABC.
"But then we explained that actually there is a correlation between the coronavirus and kittens and that kind of request went away.
"Puppies. There had been some (requests) for dogs - and someone was joking about getting animals indigenous to Australia in there as well.
"There were a few times I wouldn't mind putting a boxing kangaroo in there," Tiley joked.
Players, coaches and officials arrived on 17 charter flights last month, with most allowed out for just five hours of daily supervised training.
But eight positive COVID-19 cases threw preparations into disarray with 72 players confined to their Melbourne hotel rooms 24 hours a day, sparking complaints about the tough conditions.
Tiley admitted that putting on the Grand Slam during a pandemic had put him under huge pressure, but said the positives outweighed the negatives.
"Some people have accused us of being dog-headed about it, but we would not do it if it was not safe, that's for sure," he said.
Tiley added that being able to showcase tennis, and Melbourne, to the world while welcoming fans back to watch was "too great an opportunity to pass up".
Daily crowds of between 25,000 and 30,000 will be permitted to watch the Australian Open, which begins on 8 February.
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply
The final pits one of the greatest ever to play the sport, and at a site he's dominated, against a player who currently is playing better than anyone in men's tennis.
India's COVID immunisation drive completes 50 Days: As cases rise again, time is now to 'unlock' vaccination
The upcoming election in five states, which includes Tamil Nadu, one of the states with a high caseload, is almost guaranteed to turn into a logistical nightmare for health authorities as large gatherings and congregations are bound to happen
In October 2020, Mumbai appeared to show the future pathway — and potential end-point — for the COVID-19 pandemic. That certainty has been irreparably dented