Quarantine plan revealed for the game’s top players ahead of Australian Open
The world’s leading players will quarantine in Adelaide rather than Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open before taking part in exhibition matches.
Tournament director Craig Tiley revealed the latest part of the plan as organisers continue to try to put the pieces of a complicated puzzle together.
Next week will see 1,270 people brought to Australia on 18 charter flights from seven different cities. They will then complete a two-week period of quarantine, with players allowed out of their rooms for five hours a day to train.
It had been expected everyone would quarantine in Melbourne but the top three men and women will instead travel to South Australia.
Tiley told Tennis Channel: “We’re right up to the edge on the numbers of people we’re allowed to quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief, so we approached the South Australia government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people.
“But they wouldn’t have any interest in doing it because there’s no benefit to them to put their whole community at risk. But it would be a benefit if there was an exhibition just before Melbourne.
“The premier there agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and have those players play in exhibitions. So we chose the top three men and top three women, and they’ll play an exhibition on January 29 and 30.”
Adelaide regained a WTA and ATP event last year but this year all the Australian Open warm-up tournaments will be held in Melbourne.
An exhibition featuring the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep is therefore significant compensation.
Tiley and his team have had to deal with a number of obstacles in recent days, including a hotel in Melbourne pulling out of a quarantine arrangement after objections from penthouse owners, and he is expecting more bumps in the road.
“We know we’re going to have a lot more challenges but the bottom line is we are going to do the best we can to deliver an Australian Open that is close to what it was in 2020,” he said.
“We all feel buoyed and confident about what we can pull off during a pandemic.”
Tiley said organisers are still hopeful of being able to host fans up to 75 per cent of capacity.
Rod Laver will not be among them, though. The 82-year-old, whose name adorns Melbourne Park’s biggest court, has decided to stay at home.
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