Six Australian Open warmup events have been postponed and up to 600 people have been forced to isolate after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19 in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews called an emergency press conference late on Wednesday night to reveal that a worker at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, who had worked his last shift last Friday, returned a positive result on Wednesday.
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The Grand Hyatt had been used for Australian Open players and officials quarantining after arriving in the country two weeks ago.
Early on Thursday morning, Tennis Australia officials announced that warmup events at Melbourne Park, including the ATP Cup, will not go ahead on Thursday.
“We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible,” organisers said.
“There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today.”
Australia’s World No.1 Ash Barty was due to play at 11am on Thursday, while Nick Kyrgios was scheduled to play 1pm.
Andrews said there are about 500-600 people considered close contacts who will need to isolate until they return a negative result, however he dismissed concerns about the Australian Open being called off.
“There's a number of - about 500 or 600 people - that are either players and officials and others who are casual contacts,” Andrews said.
“They will be isolating until they get a negative test. And that work will be done tomorrow (Thursday).
“At this stage, there's no impact to the tournament proper.”
It was not immediately clear which players could have come in contact with the worker.
Andrews rejected suggestions it was the worst-case scenario for the Open and said the first grand slam of the year would be going ahead.
“I wouldn't describe it in those terms,” he said.
“We've got one case. We're going to work very hard to keep numbers as low as we possibly can.
“Decisions have been made, and we'll proceed as we can.”
500-600 players/ officials are casual contacts who must get tested and quarantine until they get a result.
Likely to impact the lead up events the next couple of days.
No change to #ausopen as it stands tonight... Will go ahead.
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) February 3, 2021
Confirmed: the new covid case in Melbourne is related to the #AusOpen. It's a guard that was working in one of the tennis quaratine hotels.
Victoria PM avoids panic. "This is one case".
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 3, 2021
this better be one hell of a tennis tournament..
— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) February 3, 2021
This morning on the radio: Melbourne has all but eradicated the virus.
This evening: virus back.
— Christie Whelan (@Christie_Whelan) February 3, 2021
Australian Open preparations in disarray
The infected man last worked at the Grand Hyatt on January 29 and undertook a nasal test at the end of that shift, returning a negative test result at that time but he subsequently showed symptoms and returned a positive test on Wednesday.
The lead-up to the Open had been thrown into chaos when four positive coronavirus cases were detected from charter flights carrying tennis players, coaches and officials to Melbourne almost three weeks ago.
Some 47 players were forced to quarantine for two weeks with things going relatively smoothly until this latest positive test.
While there’d been complaints from some players about the conditions and enforced quarantine, Nick Kyrgios was having none of it.
Before the announcement from the premier on Wednesday Kyrgios said there'd be no complaints from him if he was forced into a two-week lockdown somewhere else this year.
“It's not about me. My mom is incredibly sick,” Kyrgios said.
“There's too much risk in all of this. I don't understand what's so hard for tennis players to understand.
“Like, you're just a tennis player. Do you know what I mean? It's not life and death like this is.”
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