Australian Open boss responds to Greek player's positive virus test

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Michail Pervolarakis, pictured here in action for Greece during the ATP Cup.
Michail Pervolarakis in action for Greece during the ATP Cup. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley says the tournament will continue as normal despite Michael Pervolarakis' positive COVID-19 test sending shockwaves through Melbourne Park.

There are question marks surrounding the Australian Open's biosecurity bubble after the Greek player announced he'd tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday night.

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Pervolarakis, the World No.463, played two matches in the ATP Cup for Team Greece alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas at Melbourne Park last week before flying out of the country on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old did not play in the Australian Open before flying to South Africa (stopping in Doha along the way), testing positive while in South Africa.

In some positive news for Australian Open organisers, it is understood he tested negative before leaving Victoria.

But according to The Herald Sun, Pervolarakis flew out of Melbourne Airport on the same day a worker at the Brunetti cafe in Terminal 4 worked while infected.

The Brunetti Cafe has been listed as a Tier 1 exposure site, with an exposure time of 4.45am to 1.15pm on February 9.

There are concerns that others would have been exposed to the virus at the airport, however 11 of 12 staff at the cafe have reportedly returned negative results.

Tennis Australia confident of biosecurity bubble

Tennis Australia is aware of Pervolarakis' positive test, but officials are confident the Open's health security bubble has not been breached.

At this stage, the Open will proceed as planned, with crowds banned from attending during Victoria's hard lockdown period.

"We were notified by him of that and we now leave it up to the health authorities. We provided them with all the information yesterday," Tiley told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"While there's a link in the fact he left here, on the 9th, five days ago, it's going to be really up to the advice of the health authorities, like we've done every single day. 

Michail Pervolarakis and Stefanos Tsitsipas, pictured here at the ATP Cup.
Michail Pervolarakis and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"We just provide them the information and then they provide advice and make decisions. The good news for us is he tested [negative] and then left, before he tested positive. 

"There's a fair bit of time and travel time; and of course, he's travelling to most of the hot spots of the world and the chances of becoming infected in those hot spots is fairly high."

Tiley played down the link between Pervolarakis and Tsitsipas, who is still alive in the tournament.

"The medical advice that we've seen is the most important thing is that he tested negative and then left the country," Tiley said.

"I'm not going to be a medical expert on this but there's a lot of science around the timing of when you test negative and that will be looked at by the health authorities."

Quarantining hotel guests at the Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport, pictured here being moved to a new location.
Quarantining hotel guests at the Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport are moved to a new location. (AAP Image/Luis Ascui) NO ARCHIVING

Pervolarakis confirmed his positive test in a series of social media posts on Saturday.

"After a 24-plus hour travel day from Australia to South Africa I've been diagnosed positive to COVID-19," Pervolarakis posted.

"I am completely asymptomatic at the moment and will have to quarantine in an isolation facility in Potchefstroom.

"I am not a person that complains, but I feel that I need to express my disappointment with the conditions we are in.

He later added: "Just to clarify few things ... got tested negative in Melbourne before leaving and the nurse said that I most likely got it on the plane or on my stop in Doha."

Pervolarakis' initial announcement sent shockwaves through the Australian Open, with reports it could be a "potential nightmare" for the tournament.

Sunday marks day two of a five-day statewide lockdown of Victoria as health authorities attempt to ring-fence an outbreak of the infectious UK strain of coronavirus.

The outbreak, linked to the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport, grew to 14 cases on Saturday, after a single additional case was recorded.

A friend of an infected hotel quarantine worker - a man in his 30s from Point Cook in Melbourne's west - is the latest case.

His close contacts are isolating, many of whom attended a private dinner with him at a pop-up restaurant on Sydney Road, Coburg.

The outbreak can be traced back to a family of three who quarantined at the Holiday Inn and are believed to have been infected overseas.

with AAP

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