Naomi Osaka has seemingly been forced to delete a social media video showing her practicing for the Australian Open with four members of her support staff.
Osaka is among a group of top tennis players quarantining in Adelaide rather than Melbourne, sparking claims the world’s best players are being given an unfair advantage.
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A total of 72 players are now in hard quarantine in Melbourne hotels after five people tested positive for COVID-19 on three separate chartered flights arriving from overseas.
Under Victoria’s strict quarantine rules, the 72 players are now confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days and aren’t allowed out to train or see their coaches.
However there are no such issues in Adelaide, where the likes of Osaka, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal can leave their rooms for up to five hours every day to train.
Osaka, the 2019 Australian Open champion, is clearly happy to have that luxury, posting a video to social media over the weekend of her and four members of her entourage on the practice court.
But it seems the video wasn’t received well by fellow players locked in their hotel rooms, prompting Osaka to delete it.
According to Italian journalist Luca Fiorino, “a revolt broke out” among other players.
“The players are not very happy for the unequal treatment in relation to big players in Adelaide,” Fiorino tweeted.
“This photo of Naomi Osaka has driven their (sic) mad.”
A revolt broke out.
The players are not very happy for the unequal treatment in relation to big players in Adelaide.
This photo of Naomi Osaka has driven their mad. pic.twitter.com/UX8yADxz4G
— Luca Fiorino (@FiorinoLuca) January 16, 2021
Osaka seemed perplexed by the drama created, writing in another since-deleted tweet: “I’m really out her deleting tweets for no reason.”
They are 100% correct. Not only is this scandalous but they also gave a certain player not on the top 3 special treatment, so they lied
— taengoo (@Mytaengoo4ever) January 16, 2021
I know I am only one person but I don't like preferential treatment given to some players and I will not watch the tournament as a result if things don't change. Naomi should have demanded that everyone be given equal treatment. She is part of the problem.
— Ah ! Voilà la vieille ! Ça va chauffer ! (@enoughrespect) January 16, 2021
Well said, very disappointed that Osaka took a photo like this, but trying to break out of a hotel room is going to solve nothing.
— Owen (@tennisnation) January 16, 2021
Understandably so. But it's still no excuse for stupidity.
— Lyn Knott (@lyn_knott) January 16, 2021
The players are only allowed to bring one person to practice in Melbourne. The other team member must remain in the hotel.
— Jess Lakei (@JessLakei) January 16, 2021
They should have never sent them to Adelaide
— YoungTennisGuns (@YoungTennisGuns) January 16, 2021
Unfair advantage for players in Adelaide?
On Sunday, Austrian doubles player Philipp Oswald said players in hard lockdown in Melbourne weren’t very happy with the treatment being handed to top players in Adelaide.
With hotel rooms for international players in Melbourne nearing capacity, Tennis Australia approached the South Australian government about hosting 50-plus players.
TA boss Craig Tiley said the SA government wanted some reward for their risk so they offered up an exhibition tournament in Adelaide on January 29 and 30 featuring the top three ranked men’s and women’s players.
“Conditions are much better in Adelaide,” Oswald said.
“First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them. Medvedev and Zverev, for example, were only allowed to take two people with them, while Thiem, Nadal and Djokovic each came with 10 people.
“They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period.
“You only have the five hours to play tennis. There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset.
“It was then that Djokovic could understand that and wanted to be in Melbourne like the other players. One day later it was said that everything was already organised for him in Adelaide.
“It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears — and I caught the sour lemon.”
Tiley said the 1200-plus cohort of players and officials forced the Adelaide change.
“We're right up to the edge of people that can quarantine in Melbourne so we needed some relief,” Tiley told the Tennis Channel.
“We approached the South Australian government about the possibility of them quarantining at least 50 people, but they wouldn't have any interest in doing it because there's no benefit for them to do it to put their community at risk if the players then go straight to Melbourne.
“But it would be a benefit if they played an exhibition tournament just before they came to Melbourne, so the premier (Steven Marshall) has agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and then have those players play an exhibition event.”
Tiley said the conditions for those players would be the same for the international players in Victoria.
The Adelaide-based players will return to Melbourne Park with two WTA tournaments and two ATP events taking place as well as the 12-team ATP Cup, which starts on February 1.
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