American tennis great Jim Courier has expressed his concerns about the timing of an Australian Open hotel quarantine worker’s positive COVID-19 test.
Six warmup events at Melbourne Park were put on hold on Thursday while some 160 players and their 347 support staff - 507 in total - were told to isolate and get tested after a worker at the hotel where they quarantined tested positive on Wednesday.
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That includes former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, Australian veteran Matt Ebden and American champion-turned-commentator Courier.
Courier told the The Tennis Channel on Thursday he was concerned by the “troublesome” timing of the quarantine worker’s positive test.
“It has been a wild and woolly couple of weeks down here already with one player testing positive, as we know, and several other people testing positive,” Courier said.
“What is really interesting and somewhat troublesome is that this hotel worker tested positive after we had all left and over a week since the last person within our group had tested positive for COVID.
“That is a long transmission period which gives me great concern.
“The next 24 hours are going to be really important for us all who stayed at the Hyatt ... we will hope for the best.”
Courier said players had been told if they were negative, they would be able to resume training and playing as normal.
The latest blow to Australian Open preparations has been well received by players, according to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley.
While Open organisers were initially lashed by some players who were put into 14 days hard lockdown after passengers on their charter flight tested positive to COVID-19, Tiley said it was a different response this time around.
“The players have been remarkable,” Tiley said, confirming the warm-up events were set to resume Friday on the condition of negative tests.
“They've been 14 days in quarantine, some of them longer, and it took them a while to get used to that as we all know with their comments.
“But the majority have been fantastic ... when we made the calls last night and this morning they completely accepted it and have all gone and got tested.
“They've been very appreciative of the opportunity to play and I had a number of calls late last night and also this morning from them confirming that we want this to happen and we will do whatever.”
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Meanwhile, Tiley said he remains “absolutely confident” the grand slam tournament will start on Monday as planned.
The Australian Open draw, due to be held Thursday night, was delayed until Friday afternoon after all results are returned.
Other players who didn’t quarantine at the Grand Hyatt are free to train at Melbourne Park.
“We are absolutely confident the Australian Open is going to go ahead,” Tiley told media on Thursday.
“We've got a period we've got to work through with those 507 players and staff but the probability is very low there will be any issue and we fully expect them to test negative and we will continue with play tomorrow.
“We will be starting on Monday and we have no intention of changing times of the Open.”
Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said the risk to players and their support staff was low and the testing was a precautionary measure.
“I think it's unlikely but we have asked for testing of all of the players and other people who have been in that hotel,” Cheng said on Thursday morning.
“We think the risk ... is relatively low because they were in the rooms at the time as opposed to staff who were outside the rooms.”
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