Melbourne, Australia (AFP) –Australian Open chief Craig Tiley insisted Sunday the Grand Slam would begin as scheduled next month, while admitting it was “not a great situation” for the 47 players who have been confined to their hotel rooms.
The tournament was thrown into disarray on Saturday when three people tested positive to Covid-19 on two of the 17 charter flights bringing players and their entourages to Melbourne and Adelaide.
A fourth person, a member of a broadcast team on one of the same flights, from Los Angeles, tested positive Sunday.
None were players, although one was Sylvain Bruneau, coach of Canada’s 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu. Another was also a coach, although they were not identified.
Everyone on board was considered to be close contacts and ordered not to leave their hotel rooms for the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
It means 47 players will not be allowed out to train for five hours a day as previously agreed in the build-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, which is due to start on February 8.
The likes of Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori and Angelique Kerber are believed to among those affected, badly impacting their preparations.
“We always knew there would be significant risk with this pandemic, you can never tell,” Tiley told Channel Nine television. “But the Australian Open is going ahead and we will continue to do the best we possibly can to ensure those players that have what is not a great situation, one that is somewhat acceptable.”