Spanish superstar Roberto Bautista Agut has apologised after he claimed his interview where he compared Australian Open quarantine conditions to a ‘prison’ was a private conversation.
Australian Open preparations erupted into chaos as 72 players were forced into 14 days hard lockdown after four more positive Covid-19 cases in Melbourne were linked to charter flights of tennis players and their entourages.
‘NOT HAPPY’: Ash Barty caught in ugly Aus Open controversy
Players have lashed out at organisers for the ‘overnight changes’ to their quarantine conditions, which included Bautista Agut who appeared to go one-step further.
“It’s like being in a jail,” he said.
When asked during a zoom call whether “it’s the same as being in a prison”, Bautista Agut responded: “It’s the same.”
“These people have no idea about tennis, about practice, courts, no idea about anything.”
But some journalists pointed out at the time Bautista Agut appeared nonchalant when eating and speaking and the interview looked ‘bizarre’.
“The context of Bautista interview calling quarantine ‘jail’ is odd,” Simon Briggs, from the UK Telegraph, wrote.
“He looks to be speaking not to a reporter but to Amit Naor, who was part of the CAA agenting team which represented RBA.
“Very bizarre clip for lots of reasons,” added Ben Rothenberg.
Very bizarre clip for lots of reasons. Camera is facing the trophy; does Bautista realize he’s being recorded? https://t.co/TkjtUWIV8c
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 19, 2021
If you saw Roberto Bautista Agut’s ‘interview’ earlier, bear in mind he thought he was simply having a private conversation. https://t.co/pvaXoB0f2C
— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) January 19, 2021
— Tweet Puneet (@TennisPuneet) January 19, 2021
“Camera is facing the trophy; does Bautista realise he’s being recorded?”
Just after, Bautista Agut offered an apology claiming the interview was leaked and he was following protocol in Australia.
“I want to apologise to everyone who has been offended by the video that was posted about me recently,” he wrote on social media.
“It is a private conversation that was taken out of context that has unfortunately been released to the media without my knowledge or my consent.”
Azarenka’s emotional plea for understanding
The slew of players complaining about the conditions in Melbourne and the backlash from the broader community prompted a heartfelt letter from two-time Aus champ Victoria Azarenka.
Azarenka called for empathy towards Melbourne residents after enduring one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which has seen the local community restrict the effects of Covid-19.
“This has been a very difficult time for a lot of us that did not expect to end up in the situation we are in today, myself included,” the two-time Australian Open champ wrote.
“I understand all the frustration and feeling of unfairness that has been coming and it is overwhelming,” she added.
“We have a global pandemic, nobody has a clear playbook of how to operate at full capacity and without a glitch, we all have seen it last year. Sometimes things happen and we need to accept, adapt and keep moving.”
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