Hamish Blair/Associated Press
Australian Open tennis players who came in close contact with a hotel worker who tested positive for COVID-19 must isolate until they test negative for the coronavirus as the year’s first Grand Slam tournament is scheduled to begin Monday at Melbourne Park.
John Pye of the Associated Press reported Wednesday it’s not immediately clear how many players are returning to quarantine—an initial 14-day isolation period was required upon arriving to Australia—but Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews doesn’t expect the situation to alter the major’s schedule.
“It may have an effect on tomorrow’s play in the lead-up event,” Andrews said. “At this stage, no impact on the tournament proper.”
The worker tested negative before his last day at the hotel Friday, but the 26-year-old man subsequently returned a positive test and has worked with officials to provide contact-tracing information, per Pye.
“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.”
The Australian Open is expected to allow up to 30,000 daily spectators on the grounds of Melbourne Park, and there was no word that would be changed following Wednesday’s news.
Several players questioned the quarantine requirement for players upon arrival, with some based on the strict guidelines. Others like Sorana Cirstea because they’re competing in one of the year’s biggest tournaments with a limited amount of preparation after a two-week hiatus:
The sport has since resumed with multiple warm-up tournaments and exhibitions in Australia this week ahead of Monday’s start to the Grand Slam campaign.
Serena Williams, the 23-time major singles champion, has rarely played in events so close to a big event, but the 39-year-old American is in the Yarra Valley Classic field this week. She’s reached the quarterfinals with wins over Daria Gavrilova and Tsvetana Pironkova.
“But before that, before this whole pandemic, I could count the times on one finger I’ve done that,” Williams told reporters about playing right before a major. “I’m just happy to be out here in any circumstances. It’s so cool after what the world went through the last 12 months. Very special to be out here.”
Between the expected Australian Open attendance and the NFL’s Super Bowl, which is scheduled to host 22,000 fans in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday night, sports are attempting to get back on the road toward normalcy after nearly a year of disrupted schedules and limited or no fans.