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Two confirmed cases of COVID-19 have emerged from a charter flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, health authorities reported Saturday, in which tennis players, coaches and officials traveled prior to the Australian Open.
The cases involved a crew member and a passenger, who was not a player.
However, positive tests will cause all passengers on that flight to be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel without being able to leave their rooms, which will prevent tennis players from training.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley issued a statement saying 24 players who were on that flight will not be allowed to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days and until they are discharged. The tournament is scheduled to start on February 8.
“We are communicating with everyone who was on this flight, and particularly with the group of players whose conditions have changed, to make sure that their needs are addressed as much as possible, and that they are fully informed of the situation”, Tiley noted. “Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them the best for their recovery.”
Local media reported that Kei Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up who tested negative for COVID-19 after having two positive tests, and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka were among the group of players. who arrived in the country of the flight from Los Angeles.
The 15 charter flights and early arrivals are part of the Australian tennis federation’s bid to run the tournament despite a ban on international arrivals to the nation.
Australia has done a good job containing the coronavirus and has recorded 909 deaths from the disease nationwide. The state of Victoria, whose capital is Melbourne, had 810 of those deaths during the deadly second wave of the virus that occurred three months ago, which caused curfews and lockdowns in the city.
Five-time finalist Andy Murray’s participation in the tournament is in doubt after he tested positive for COVID-19 days before his planned trip to Melbourne. The tournament noted that the three-time Grand Slam champion is isolated at home in Britain.
Americans Madison Keys and Tennys Sandgren also tested positive for the virus, but Sandgren received a permit to fly.
Charter flights to Australia had to limit their capacity to 25%, arriving in a 36-hour period that ended early Saturday.
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