'Absolutely confident': Australian Open boss' big call amid virus drama

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley (pictured right) during a press conference and (pictured right) Italian tennis player Martina Trevisan in line to be tested for Covid-19.
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley (pictured right) said he was confident the Australian Open would go ahead despite players getting tested for Covid-19 (pictured right Italian tennis player Martina Trevisan in line to be tested). (Getty Images)

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley said he was ‘absolutely confident’ the Australian Open will go ahead as scheduled after more than 500 players and staff were waiting for Covid-19 results.

Six warmup events, including the ATP Cup, were not played on Thursday at Melbourne Park after the worker from the Grand Hyatt Hotel returned a positive test.

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The Grand Hyatt had been used as one of the quarantine hotels for international tennis players and officials arriving for the Australian Open.

While more than 500 occupants were forced to isolate depending results, which could throw the Australian Open in disarray, Victoria's Deputy Chief Health Officer said the risk to players and their support staff was low.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said there was “no impact to the tournament proper” at this stage and Tiley reiterated he was confident things would go ahead.

He also said health and tournament officials acted swiftly after the alert last night.

“We decided after hearing last night ... we would reschedule them (lead-up matches) for tomorrow,” he said at a press conference on Thursday evening.

“Those (players and staff affected) ... were immediately notified last night that when they got up this morning at 9 o’clock we would start testing and all of them would have to isolate, get a test and then stay in isolation until they got permission from the health authorities to come out of isolation if they get a negative test.

Tennis players queue for a Covid-19 coronavirus test at a hotel in Melbourne on February 4, 2021.
Tennis players queue for a Covid-19 coronavirus test at a hotel in Melbourne on February 4, 2021. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

“There are about 50 staff that were considered close contacts and they’re testing and then have to isolate for 14 days.”

Tiley said with many players not needing to isolate because they were not at the hotel, he intends for the Australian Open to go ahead as scheduled.

“The intention is to start the Australian Open on Monday,” Tiley added.

He also said the draw would take place on Friday evening after a better understanding of the situation unfolds.

Risk to the players is low

Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said the risk to the tennis cohort was low.

“I think it's unlikely but we have asked for testing of all of the players and other people who have been in that hotel,” Cheng said on Thursday morning.

“We think the risk to other guests at the hotel, so tennis players and their accompanying staff, is relatively low because they were in the rooms at the time as opposed to staff who were outside the rooms.

“That said, the last case to leave the hotel for the health hotel left on the 22nd so we're now getting on to close to 14 days since that time.

“So we think that risk is relatively low so we're testing them to be sure, and it's precautionary.”

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