Novak Djokovic has reportedly sent a series of demands to Australian Open boss Craig Tiley after a further 25 players were forced into hard quarantine on Sunday.
A total of 72 players arriving for the Australian Open will be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days after three chartered flights returned five positive COVID-19 cases.
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A fifth person, who had flown into Melbourne on an Australian Open charter flight from Doha, tested positive on Sunday night after arriving on Saturday.
It means three Australian Open charter flights have now brought in passengers who later tested positive, following infections on planes from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.
A number of players have hit out at the conditions they are faced with for the next 14 days, unable to train or see their coaches in preparation for the first tennis grand slam of the year.
That has prompted men’s World No.1 Djokovic - the former head of the ATP Player Council - to reportedly send a letter to officials calling for changes.
According to Spanish journalist Fernando Murciego, Djokovic has called for the following changes:
Fitness and training material in all rooms
Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete
Reduce the days of isolation for the 72 isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative
Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR
If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel
Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train
However Djokovic’s reported demands haven’t been received well among fans and commentators, especially considering his role in the infamous Adria Tour debacle.
“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,” wrote Shane McInnes on Twitter.
Fellow journalist Mark Gottlieb wrote: “You know who we shouldn’t be listening to about covid protocols for a tennis tournament? ... Novak ‘Adria Tour’ Djokovic.”
“Just for the record there is 0% chance of some of these proposals are taken on board.”
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
Just for the record there is 0% chance of some of these proposals are taken on board https://t.co/Dsa2ERDaXR
— 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
Novax Djokcovid should not talk, creating a tennis tournament last year causing cluster and his whole family testing positive to it.
— Mr B (@BrendoSYD) January 17, 2021
The same Novak Djokovic who organised a super-spreader event in Serbia and said 'yes the virus is bad but life goes on'? https://t.co/aoSZ3mVpTb
— Emily (@Emilitaa23) January 17, 2021
Can we just send Djokovic back? So sick of ... well, everything he seems to stand for. Anyone flying into Australia these days knows what they are in for. Wouldn’t miss him at the @AustralianOpen in the slightest. https://t.co/lmo4W23i1q
— Steph Paige (@Steph__Paige) January 17, 2021
Players breaking rules in hotel quarantine
All international players were originally given an exemption to train for up to five hours a day but the test results have forced the three affected flights into stricter quarantine under Victorian government orders, prompting complaints of unfair advantage for the others.
The coach of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Sylvain Bruneau, confirmed he was one of the four cases.
Training has been put on hold for all quarantined players pending final test results, although all players and their training partners have been cleared of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said that police presence had been increased at the Open hotels and added that there had been cases of "challenging behaviour" from some confined players and support staff.
She cited two cases when they opened their doors to have a conversation or shout down the hallway.
“There is zero tolerance for breaches,” she said.
“It's low level but dangerous acts that we just can't tolerate.”
Cassar warned they could be fined up to $20,000 or repeat offenders transferred to the complex care hotel where they have a police officer stationed outside their door.
Some players in hard lockdown are calling for the February 8 Australian Open start date to be pushed back to ensure they have adequate time to prepare.
But Tiley ruled out another date change.
“We are planning on February the eighth ... and our intention is to continue with those dates,” Tiley told Nine Network's Today Show.
Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic spotted in quarantine at Adelaide Hotel
Casually dressed in a white top and blue plants, he appears to be holding a drink as he looks onto the street.https://t.co/ltbs6FxyV9 pic.twitter.com/9OikLm6OBh
— C Kristjánsdóttir ●🐊 (@CristinaNcl) January 15, 2021
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