As the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the United States, tennis star Jack Sock has caught the ire of fans for hosting a large wedding as the Australian Open approaches.
While in any other year, Sock’s wedding with bride Laura Little would have barely registered, the world number 253’s well-attended ceremony drew criticism from tennis fans and some heavy hitters.
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Few, if any, of Sock’s guests were wearing masks for the pair’s wedding in South Carolina’s Charleston County - which has recorded well over 22,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 300 deaths as a result.
Sock posted several pictures of the glamorous ceremony to Instagram earlier in the week, prompting leading tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg to question how responsible a move it was.
Rothenberg particularly highlighted the approaching Australian Open, which was delayed as officials worked with the Victorian state government to figure out suitable arrangements for players to quarantine and train.
“As governments around the world contemplate if tennis players can be trusted to act responsibly during a pandemic (specifically the men, really), I can’t think that an ATP player posting photos of his completely undistanced wedding helps their case. (Mazel tov, but yikes),” Rothenberg posted on Twitter.
It comes after the likes of Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic were criticised for their behaviour earlier in the year, with the latter hosting a charity tournament and ultimately catching the virus, while the former was caught partying in Europe.
Charter flights in Aust Open COVID plan
Australian Open stars will be flown in on charter flights and only be allowed to practice with one designated player for the first week of their quarantine as they prepare for the delayed tennis grand slam.
Tournament director Craig Tiley revealed more of the planning for an Australian Open like no other on Saturday, after the Victorian Government finally approved quarantine plans and confirmed the Open start date of February 8, three weeks later than usual.
The qualifying tournaments will take place overseas from January 10-13, with the men's event in Doha and the women playing in Dubai.
Players for the Open's main draw events will then be flown into Melbourne on January 15-16 on chartered flights from around the world.
As governments around the world contemplate if tennis players can be trusted to act responsibly during a pandemic (specifically the men, really), I can’t think that an ATP player posting photos of his completely undistanced wedding helps their case.
(Mazel tov, but yikes) pic.twitter.com/0SmKkBGFCV
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) December 22, 2020
Tiley was at pains to stress that the chartered flights meant players would not be taking airline seats away from Australian citizens stranded overseas for months due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
Before they get on a flight, players must provide a negative COVID test in a 48-hour window and they will be tested again on arrival before receiving further tests - getting a minimum of five through their two-weeks of modified quarantine.
Tiley said players would be kept in a highly-secure environment while shuttled between their hotel room and Melbourne Park for their permitted five hours a day of training.
The limit of one specified training partner for the first week would likely be expanded to 2-3 hitting partners for the second week.
He said all players would have the chance to play at least one warm up tournament before the Australian Open.
The men's ATP Cup teams tournament, two ATP events and two WTA tournaments take place in Melbourne the week beforehand.
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