Australian doubles entrant Ellen Perez has slammed US Open officials for allowing at least 10 French players to carry on in New York despite having been in close contact with Benoit Paire before he tested positive to COVID-19.
US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster confirmed the cluster of players would be allowed to compete, unlike the case with Guido Pella and Hugo Dellien, who were removed from the Western & Southern Open last week when their physiotherapist tested positive for the virus.
Instead, they've been asked to sign new waivers that restrict them from accessing certain areas on-site and at the tournament hotel.
"Contact tracing has been executed, decisions have been made, and we're continuing on to have those individuals in the competition based on the medical science and all of those facts. They will be in the competition starting this morning," Allaster told the Tennis Channel.
The decision appears at odds with the US Open's protocols that dictate a player be quarantined for 14 days if they have come in close contact with an individual who has tested positive. But Allaster insists the rules have been followed to a tee.
"What's really important is that all of the safety and the medical health protocols that have been approved by the state and are now being implemented and overseen by the US Open medical team are all being executed exactly the way that we had intended," said the tournament director."
But Perez, who went to college in the US and is partnering fellow Australian Storm Sanders in the women's doubles at Flushing Meadows, is deeply concerned and warned of potential class action against officials if there was an outbreak at the slam.
"The new protocols are misleading, disrespectful and wrong," Perez posted on social media on Tuesday.
"You're sending the message you can be close contact to a positive person and be fine to play and be around others.
"How can one week you enforce the correct strict rules and the next week you not. You run a dangerously thin line with this.
"If any of those close contacts turn back an eventual positive test after having played I hope everyone takes action against these reckless and dangerous protocols.
"This isn't a game. You spend so much money on trying to ensure the safety of players to then get a crucial moment where leadership is required and you let us down."
French doubles player Edouard Roger-Vasselin is one of those who have been asked to sign new waivers.
"To sum up, we are in the bubble of a bubble," he told L'Equipe about the current situation.
Roger-Vasselin explained he has been asked to only dine in his room, to take the stairs and not the elevator, to notify the tournament of his departure time from the hotel so they can send him a private car, and that he doesn't have access to the locker room at the stadium.
He says he can only practise with other players who have been in contact with Paire, and can only see his doubles partner Jurgen Melzer on the court and during their matches.
"The other big question is also knowing what happens to you if you lose? No one has been able to tell me yet. Do you have to stay in quarantine? Suddenly it makes you want to win even more," he told the French daily.