The Australian Open will start as planned on Monday, despite the fact that a worker at one of the Melbourne hotels used quarantine players and their entourage tested positive for COVID-19, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Thursday.
Thursday’s warm-up matches at Melbourne Park were suspended after the case was announced late on Wednesday, and those who were quarantined at the Grand Hyatt Hotel were instructed to test and insulate until they got results.
“We are absolutely convinced that the Australian Open will continue,” Tiley told reporters in Melbourne. “We start on Monday.”
Tiley said the 507 people involved, 160 of them players, would have completed their tests by Thursday afternoon.
If the results were negative, players would be free to participate in the six warm-up events at the Grand Slam site so that they could train a little after 14 days in quarantine.
“This gives us three days to complete leading events,” he said, adding that the draw for the Grand Slam tournament had been postponed from Thursday to Friday.
Earlier, health officials in Victoria said testing the tennis cohort was a precautionary measure.
“We believe that the risk to other guests at the hotel – tennis players and their accompanying staff – is relatively low,” Professor Allen Cheng told reporters.
Victoria endured one of the longest and toughest lockdowns in the world to contain the new coronavirus, and Wednesday’s fall was the first to be acquired locally in the state in almost a month.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Dan Andrews has made it clear that Community security is of paramount importance and said that there were no guarantees for the Australian Open.
“At this stage, tennis should not be affected by this,” he told reporters. “These things can change (but) this has been a textbook answer to this.”
Michael O’Brien, the opposition leader in Victoria’s state legislature, urged the government to call on Saturday if the tournament were to go ahead.
“We do not want to see a situation like we did with the Grand Prix, where the crowds literally show up, just to be rejected,” he told the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun. “I think people have a right to know what’s going on, and the government should think for the next 24 to 48 hours.”
The Australian Grand Prix, the traditional season opener of the Formula 1 Championship, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year a few hours before the cars were to reach the track at Melbourne Park in Melbourne.
Tiley rejected the comparison.
“The probability is very low that a problem has arisen. We expect everyone to test negative, he said. “The plan is to continue playing tomorrow as planned.”
Tiley, who has plenty of experience rescheduling matches due to rain, hot weather and bushfire smoke, said the schedule for Friday, when wet weather is forecast, would be released later on Thursday.
“With the rain, we have the luxury of having three stadium courts and eight indoor courts,” he said. “It will allow us not to move on but at least be able to finish by Sunday.”