Two flights carrying players and officials to Melbourne for the Australian Open have been compromised.
It was reported that there were two positive virus cases on the flight from Los Angeles, QR7493, carrying 79 people, including players like Victoria Azarenka, Kei Nishikori and Sloane Stephens. Later, it also emerged that one person on flight EY8004, from Abu Dhabi, had contracted the virus.
While none of the players have tested positive, they will be under strict quarantine rules as they were in close contact with people who had been infected.
The players have been put in 14-day strict mandatory quarantine, which means they will not be allowed to leave the hotel room even for the five hours of practice or training.
There were two positive COVID-19 tests on Santiago Gonzalez’s flight to Melbourne from LAX and everyone on it will have to quarantine for two weeks. pic.twitter.com/mS510fWiOJ
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 16, 2021
American player Tennys Sandgren, who was allowed to board the flight despite testing positive because he is reportedly only shedding the viral particles and is not infectious, was on the flight from Los Angeles. So were Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez, Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and USA’s Alison Riske and Nicholas Monroe.
The flight from Abu Dhabi was carrying 23 players, including the likes of former major champions Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Bianca Andreescu, Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Greece’s Maria Sakkari.
Two-time champion Azarenka, former US Open champion Stephens and former top-10 player Kei Nishikori are some of the high-profile names that were on the flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
New Zealand player Artem Sitak, who was also on the LA plane, informed through his social media posts that since the players were not allowed to train outside they were being given exercise bikes in their rooms.
“We’re all deemed close contact. I asked for a bike, so hopefully I’ll get one and stay in shape,” Sitak said. “We’ll probably be out on the 29th of January and head straight into the ATP 250 a few days after.
“Obviously not great, but that’s the risk we were all taking. They kind of warned us this was going to be at the discretion of the Australian government, Australian health authorities if something like this happened. It’s just unlucky that two of them contracted the virus.”
Guido Pella was once again struck by misfortune. The Argentine was not allowed to compete at the Cincinnati Masters, which marked the return of the ATP Tour after a six-month hiatus, because his trainer had tested positive.
Pella got out of quarantine in New York only a few days before the US Open and went down in the first round. The 30-year-old was also on the flight to Melbourne and has once again been forced into isolation.