Uproar after COVID-positive tennis player boards flight to Australia

Andrew Reid
·5-min read
Pictured here, American tennis player Tennys Sandgren at the 2020 Australian Open.
Tennys Sandgren boarded a flight to Melbourne despite testing positive for coronavirus days ago. Pic: Getty

American tennis star Tennys Sandgren has sparked outrage on social media after revealing that he was allowed on an Australian Open charter flight to Melbourne, despite testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

Sandgren made a name for himself at the 2020 Australian Open after taking Roger Federer to the wire in an epic quarter-final showdown with the Swiss maestro.

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However, the 29-year-old revealed on Thursday that his hopes of going on another Melbourne Park run in 2021 were in jeopardy after recently testing positive for coronavirus for a second time.

In a series of increasingly confusing tweets from LAX airport, Sandgren first suggested that his Australian Open hopes were dashed after his most recent positive test on Monday.

“Covid positive over thanksgiving. Covid positive on monday. Yet pcr tests are the “gold standard”? Atleast I get to keep my points (laugh emoji)”.

A short time later, Sandgren tweeted again to say that officials had delayed the flight so he could get on, despite the fact his bags had still not been checked.

Incredibly, he then provided a further update to say he was on the plane, before thanking Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.

“Wait hold on I think they are trying to get me on 15 min after the plane was supposed to depart.. my bags still aren’t checked lol,” he tweeted.

“Wow I’m on the plane. Maybe I just held my breath too long. [Australian Open boss] Craig Tiley is a wizard.

The chaotic situation took another bizarre twist when tennis writer Ben Rothenberg revealed that the plane had been turned back before departing.

No details were immediately forthcoming about whether Sandgren was the reason why the plane was sent back to the gates.

Tennis world fumes over Sandgren situation

Outraged fans took to social media to question why he was allowed on the charter flight in the first place, considering his positive test.

Rothenberg later revealed that the flight did in fact take off a short time after being sent back to the gate.

The tennis writer said it was his understanding that everyone was still on the plane, suggesting that Sandgren was allowed to travel.

Tennis Australia released a statement in response to Sandgren's situation.

“Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 and who are non-infectious can continue to shed the virus for several months," the statement read.

“Vic government public health experts assess each case based on additional detailed medical records to ensure they are not infectious before checking in to the charter flights.

“Players and their teams are tested every day from their arrival in Australia, a much stricter process than for anyone else in hotel quarantine.”

Seen here, Sandgren and Federer at the 2020 Australian Open.
Sandgren went down to Federer in an epic Australian Open quarter-final in 2020. Pic: Getty

Players entering Australia from overseas will be required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine and only allowed out of their hotel rooms for five hours per day, as per Victoria's strict biosecurity measures.

Organisers of the year's first grand slam have arranged some 15 charter flights catering for around 1200 players, officials and support staff for the Australian Open, which gets underway on February 8.

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