A host of tennis players were barred from practising for a fortnight Saturday in a major setback to their Australian Open preparations after two people on a charter flight that brought them to Melbourne tested positive to Covid-19.
While those who failed the test were not players, all remaining passengers were ordered to stay in their hotel rooms for the entire 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
That means the 24 players on board will not be allowed out to practice and train for the five hours each day agreed to as part of their build-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year.
According to local media, former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens and Japan’s Kei Nishikori were among those on the plane, which departed from Los Angeles.
The positive tests came from a member of the flight crew and reportedly a coach.
“The aircrew member and the passenger have been interviewed and transferred to a health hotel as per normal processes for positive cases,” Covid-19 Victoria, the government body helping coordinate Tennis Australia’s quarantine arrangements, said in a statement.
Tournament organiser Craig Tiley said he was in touch with the players.
The world’s top players began arriving in Australia on Thursday for the delayed Grand Slam, which is due to start on February 8.
Most touched down in Melbourne, although the biggest names in the game, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, flew into Adelaide.
According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, the flight was the same one that sparked controversy on Thursday when American player Tennys Sandgren tweeted he had been allowed to board despite returning a positive test.