The Russians Daria Kasatkina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova assembled tennis strokes, which they each performed in their hotel rooms Tik Tok together – it looked like they were playing against each other. A sequence that Julia Putintseva put online caused amusement.
The Kazakh woman had to share her room with a mouse. After a few hours she was given new accommodation and this problem was resolved. Otherwise? Are the organizers of the Australian Open and national politics in crisis PR mode.
The long-planned entry campaign, in which all participants in this mammoth event should be flown in under strict conditions and in one fell swoop in order to minimize the risk of introducing the corona virus, has developed into a debacle.
The American Tennys Sandgren, previously tested positive, was allowed to join. After a final check, it was decided that his finding was the end of a corona infection that had been overcome. Within three days, 17 charter planes transported more than 1200 professionals and team members from seven cities to Melbourne and a selected few to Adelaide; A separate, more comfortable bubble was organized there for the top three women and men in the world rankings – which, unsurprisingly, sparked a debate on the subject of preferential treatment among players.
The prerequisite for boarding was a negative test not older than 72 hours for everyone. But the preliminary balance on Sunday was like a disaster: five positive corona cases were determined after landing – three on the plane from Los Angeles (trainer of the Canadian Bianca Andreescu, a crew member, a radio employee), one on the plane from Abu Dhabi (one not named coach), one on the plane from Doha on Sunday (no player). For the time being, 72 players are now in complete quarantine and are no longer allowed to leave their room. Angelique Kerber, who triumphed in Melbourne in 2016, is also among the isolated people, she was on the plane from Abu Dhabi. She did not know more than that she had to be in quarantine for 14 days, she wrote Twitter and wished “good night”.
Many hit softballs against the walls as a substitute for exercise
The professionals were not informed that in the event of a Covid case, all flight occupants would have to be in quarantine, as the Swiss Belinda Bencic announced. Many had assumed that if the worst came to the worst, only separate groups of ten people would be isolated.
The Romanian Sorena Cirstea, for her part, complained about the sporting disadvantage – “we can’t play a competition after staying on the couch for 14 days,” she texted and confronted Craig Tiley with his statement from October; Before the Australian Open, there are still smaller tournaments in Melbourne. Accordingly, Tiley, tournament director of the Australian Open, said that professionals could not be expected to play a tournament after 14 days of isolation without a tennis stroke. Those athletes who tested negative after arrival also have to be in quarantine – but they are allowed to leave the hotel for five hours a day. Starting this Monday, you will be able to train on the field and go to fitness rooms, spread over three facilities in Melbourne.
The y want to support those who are currently locked in their rooms and provide training equipment; Social media can already be seen as actors hit softballs against walls. Tiley regretted the situation, but said they had made it clear to everyone beforehand that “there is a risk”.
The professionals were told that in the event of a positive result, the Australian health authorities would decide whether all players on the plane had to be quarantined or only one faction.
For the first round alone there is 100,000 Australian dollars in prize money (63,800 euros). “I was prepared for this risk,” said Sitak, placing the order: “Many Australians cannot enter due to the strict entry rules. As foreigners, we are fighting for a lot of money here in a Grand Slam. We can still be happy to be here. ” Around 37,000 Australians are said to be stuck abroad at the moment.
National politics has also come under severe pressure: Emma Cassar, the head of the authority responsible for quarantine matters in the state of Victoria, had to explain on television that she assured that the state was strictly observing the safety rules. Two players are said to have left their rooms briefly without permission; a fine of up to 20,000 Australian dollars.
The world number one Novak Djokovic meanwhile wrote to Tiley for relief measures for those isolated in the rooms, for example, he demanded that those professionals should be moved to private houses with tennis courts.
As if everything weren’t complicated enough, the Serb himself came under fire. On the one hand, like Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, he is one of the privileged few who traveled to Adelaide with a whole entourage and found more pleasant conditions. On the other hand, he was filmed sitting in the bus without a mask.