Stranded Aussie model lashes Australian Open 'double standards'

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Belle Lucia, pictured here on Instagram with her son.
Belle Lucia says she and her son can't get home from the UK. Image: Instagram

Australian model Belle Lucia has hit out at the federal government, accusing them of allowing tennis stars into the country for the Australian Open ahead of Aussie citizens trying to get home.

Around 1200 tennis players and officials are currently in hotel quarantine in Melbourne and Adelaide after flying into the country earlier this month to prepare for the grand slam.

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However there have been claims that the tennis cohort have been given priority when Australian citizens are being forced to wait overseas.

Lucia, who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, is desperately trying to get home to Australia from the UK with her young son because her visa is about to expire.

The model lashed out on Instagram on Wednesday, accusing the federal government of “double standards”.

“So if you’re a rich tennis player no problem getting into the country,” she wrote.

“If you’re an Australian citizen with an almost expired visa with a baby, then no.

“Also, it’s mandatory to do two weeks’ hotel quarantine but a lot of tennis players get practice time outdoors which is another double standard.”

Scott Morrison rejects Australian Open claims

Around 40,000 Australians are currently stranded abroad after a cap on numbers in hotel quarantine was reduced across the country.

Last week Scott Morrison moved to hose down claims that tennis players were being afforded special treatment in favour of Australian citizens.

“No one is being prevented from coming home from overseas because of the Australian Open. That’s not happening,” the Prime Minister told 2GB radio.

“Their places are not being taken by tennis players, I can tell you that.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open is actually helping to fund the state's plans to allow more travellers to return home to Australia.

“Tennis Australia are essentially paying for a system that will mean a whole bunch of staff are trained and will mean we are able to step up and take more returned travellers, more than we would otherwise take,” Andrews said.

“I have agreements with the prime minister about us doing more – that’s only fair - and we will have more than the numbers we’re getting that are coming back now, all of which are unaffected by the tennis.”

Andrews’ comments came as frustration continues to mount that Victorians are being left stranded in New South Wales red zones, while international tennis stars are allowed to fly into the state to quarantine.

Outspoken Liberal MP Tim Smith slammed Premier Andrews over the issue, urging him to “bring the Victorians home or cancel the Open”.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here on his hotel balcony in Adelaide.
Novak Djokovic smiles at fans from a hotel balcony in Adelaide. (Photo by MORGAN SETTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Positive player slams Aus Open hotel quarantine

Meanwhile, Spanish player Paula Badosa has described her time in hotel quarantine as the worst experience of her career, saying she felt “abandoned” by Australian Open organisers.

Badosa, ranked 67th in the world, was the first player to test positive for coronavirus upon arriving in Australia ahead of the tournament and she has been in quarantine in Melbourne along with about 70 other players.

The 23-year-old said she had suffered from anxiety and claustrophobia, and has been using water bottles as weights to try to stay in shape.

“I feel abandoned because I don't have training equipment which I requested five days ago,” she told Spanish newspaper Marca on Monday.

“I haven't been told which type of the virus I have, I've had no information from the tournament.”

On Wednesday, COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria said safety is paramount and any equipment given to people who have tested positive would later need to be “safely destroyed”.

“Our priority is supporting the health and wellbeing of those in our care and reducing the risk of transmission to protect staff and community safety,” a COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria spokesperson said.

“CQV is in ongoing discussions with Tennis Australia about suitable equipment that can be delivered to positive and symptomatic residents, given that the equipment can't be reused and would need to be safely destroyed.”

with AAP

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