As many as 47 players were barred from practising for a fortnight on Saturday in preparation for Australian Open after two passengers on two charter flights tested positive to COVID-19
While the three people who failed the tests were not players, everyone on board was considered a close contact and ordered to stay in their hotel rooms for the entire 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
It means none of them will now be allowed out to practise and train for the five hours each day agreed to as part of their build-up to the opening major of the year, Tennis Australia said.
That included 24 players on a plane from Los Angeles, where a crew member and one other passenger, reportedly a coach, tested positive.
According to local media, former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens and Japan’s Kei Nishikori were among those on board.
A positive case – not a player – also emerged from another flight, with 23 players affected, reportedly including Grand Slam winners Bianca Andreescu, Angelique Kerber, and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation,” tournament organiser Craig Tiley said of the Los Angeles service.
French player Alize Cornet, who is in Melbourne but was not on either plane, called the situation “insane”.
“Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate,” she tweeted. “Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to COVID in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane.”
The world’s top players began arriving in Australia on Thursday for the delayed Grand Slam, which is due to start on February 8.