Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has categorically ruled out making changes to quarantine rules for Australian Open players, following a list of requests from Novak Djokovic.
The World No.1 tennis player reportedly sent Australian Open boss Craig Tiley a letter with six points he would like actioned for frustrated players who are in lockdown in Melbourne.
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A further 25 Australian Open players were forced into hard quarantine on Sunday, bringing the total number of competitors now isolating in hotel rooms to over 70.
The players will now be confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days, prompting Djokovic to call on Tennis Australia with a list of proposed changes.
Among the reported demands, published by Spanish tennis website Punto de Break, Djokovic wants the days of isolation reduced, the ability for players to see their coach or trainer, and as many players as possible moved to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training.
But addressing Djokovic’s demands on Monday, Andrews was unequivocal in his response.
“People are free to provide lists of demands. But the answer is no,” he said.
“That was very clearly laid out beforehand. So the notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed – I think that that argument really has no integrity whatsoever.”
Andrews also set a number of players straight after complaints that the hard quarantine rules were changed after their arrival in Australia.
Many claimed they were told that they wouldn’t necessarily be forced into hard isolation if a passenger on their flight tested positive for COVID-19.
“They were all briefed on that before they came. And that was the condition on which they came. There’s no special treatment here,” Andrews told reporters.
“There’s still plenty of time for two weeks of quarantine and a buffer that’s built in before February 8 before the tournament starts, and we’ll just have to be guided by the test results that come back from people who have been, by virtue of being on a flight with people who have tested positive, despite having tested negative before they got on the plane.”
The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria, Emma Cassar, has already said that the quarantine program won't be altered.
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances,” Cassar said on Sunday.
Four more Aus Open participants test positive
Victoria also announced on Monday that four more Australian Open participants, including one player, have been recorded with COVID-19 infections and more cases may come to light as testing continues.
Health authorities in Victoria have now reported nine infections among passengers that arrived in Melbourne on charter flights.
“All four are associated with the tennis, and they're all tucked away safely in hotel quarantine,” Andrews said.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton added: “I think the people who tested positive thus far were probably exposed before they got on the flights.
“But it will be the test results in coming days that will give us a picture of whether anyone's had infection transmitted to them on a flight.
“That's why the rules are extremely strict for these tennis players and their entourage, as much as for any other international arrival.”
Djokovic’s demands have been widely criticised on social media, given his involvement in organising the shambolic Adria Tour, a tennis exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia held without any social distancing measures in place that resulted in positive COVID-19 cases to numerous players involved - including the Serbian himself.
You know who we shouldn’t be listening to about covid protocols for a tennis tournament?
... Novak ‘Adria Tour’ Djokovic. https://t.co/3b8zCpzzOV
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) January 17, 2021
I hope Djokovic gets a true Australian answer to his letter... Yeah Nah
Last person in the world I'd be taking advice on COVID protocols https://t.co/rljJFRDwCk
— Sean Callanan (@seancallanan) January 17, 2021
Proposals reportedly made by Novak Djokovic to #ausopen boss Craig Tiley for players, in particular those in isolation.
Points 3 to 6 have zero chance of happening. Absolutely none.
And, it’s fair to say Djokovic’s opinion on Covid-19 protocols count for zilch. https://t.co/2ICl9HTuJY
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 17, 2021
Djokovic and some the game’s biggest stars including Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are preparing for the Open in Adelaide, where they will play an exhibition on January 29.
There have been claims those players have better training conditions and were allowed to bring more staff than the one person allocated to players in Melbourne.
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