The Australian Open was pushed back to February 8th due to coronavirus issues, with a series of lead-up events announced by the ATP Tour in Melbourne after players complete 14 days of quarantine. This came after protracted negotiations with Tennis Australia and the Victorian state authorities in Melbourne, which only emerged from a months-long lockdown in October following a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
Originally due to start on January 18th, some 1200 tennis players and support staff players have now arrived in Australia to serve two weeks of quarantine, many of them coming from countries when the pandemic is still raging. Three hotels will now be where players and their entourages will quarantine.
Top players, including Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams, arrived in Adelaide where they will isolate before playing an exhibition event.
Andy Murray’s participation as been thrown into doubt after the former champion tested positive for COVID-19. The former world No.1 was due to travel to Australia on one of the 18 charter flights laid on by tournament organisers, but is still isolating at home.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said she felt confident in the hotel quarantine system around the Open and deemed it the toughest in the world. “We have the strongest and strictest rules that apply to tennis across the world.
“The is the strictest program in the world in terms of hotel quarantine,” she said. All players and their teams have been tested before leaving their departure point.
Players and their support person – a coach or physio for example – will face strict limitations on movement and be tested every day, they will also be escorted by COVID marshalls to and from facilities.
Training will not be allowed to begin until Tuesday and players will form a bubble with one other player from the same hotel. 130 minutes will be allocated to court time, 90 minutes to a gym session and 60 minutes to a nutrition session before immediately returning to their hotel.
Players are not allowed to mix with anyone outside their bubbles and there can be no crossover between hotels.
Ms Neville said crowd numbers for the open were still being worked through by the Chief Health Officer.
The minister said Tennis Australia was footing the bill for the “robust and strong quarantine program” but could not confirm the cost.
Serb Novak Djokovic will be aiming for a ninth Australian Open title a contingent including top stars Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.
Crowd numbers are yet to be confirmed with the Chief Health Officer working through numbers.