'Kept it secret': Australian Open rocked by COVID-19 'cover-up' claims

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
SA Health Minister Stephen Wade, pictured here talking to the media.
SA Health Minister Stephen Wade has denied claims of a cover-up. Image: AAP/Getty

The South Australian government has hit back at bombshell claims it “covered up” a COVID-19 case when international tennis players and officials arrived in Adelaide last month.

The likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were among a handful of top tennis stars who quarantined in Adelaide instead of Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, playing in an exhibition event called a Day at the Drive.

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The State Opposition has since claimed the government were aware of a positive COVID-19 case in the tennis cohort but decided not to make the information public.

On Tuesday, Labor’s health spokesman Chris Picton said the government only made the positive case public knowledge after comments from French player Benoit Paire following his first-round loss at the Australian Open.

Mr Picton accused the government of a “cover-up” and said it reeked of “double standards”.

“There have been numerous examples where the Government have held press conferences to tell us about cases that they have known have been old infections,” he said, according to the ABC.

“When it came to the tennis, the Government’s decided to keep that information secret.

“There was a different standard applied to this case than to previous cases.

“In this case, there was no notification to the public. In fact, it was only via an international tennis player complaining about it yesterday that we were able to know what's happened in this case.”

A fan, pictured here wearing a face mask at the Australian Open.
A fan wearing a face mask watches the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images)

However Health Minister Stephen Wade has flatly rejected those claims.

“It wasn’t a positive case on the plane in the sense of being an infectious case, it was an old case,” he said.

“In any case which is identified as an old case and it's been previously counted and it's not infectious, it's not counted and it’s not reported.

“That's consistent with the national guidelines, it’s consistent with international practice and to be frank it’s also consistent with common sense.”

Days after the tennis cohort arrived in Adelaide, reports in international media claimed a support staffer had tested positive.

The Australian Open’s official Twitter account said SA Health had confirmed that there was no-one with “an active COVID-19 infection” in “the entire tennis cohort based in Adelaide”.

Benoit Paire, pictured here in action at the ATP Cup in Melbourne.
Benoit Paire in action at the ATP Cup in Melbourne. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Benoit Paire takes aim at ‘shameful’ Australian Open

On Monday night after his loss, Paire slammed the Australian Open’s “shameful” treatment of players.

“I think it's shit, and what happened is shameful,” Paire told French media.

“I'm very happy with my level... but this tournament, I think it's really crap.

“There was also a positive case on the flight to Adelaide but there, they had time to take blood samples. We were told to quarantine.

“Either we do the same things and the same rules for everyone. I do not understand why it's not fair for everyone...

“It's all about the money. There is a huge loss if they don't make the tournament.

“Most players think that there is a little bit of money to be made and they come for it.

“I also play for money. But if you have to make so many sacrifices and things go so badly, let it be such a hassle, at some point you just have to say stop.”

with AAP

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