The Australian Open is halting matches on Thursday — four days before the tournament is set to kick off — after a worker at one of the tournament’s hotels tested positive for COVID-19.
The first Grand Slam of 2021 is schedule to begin Monday. The venue is currently hosting the ATP Cup team competition among others through Friday. There were approximately 62 matches scheduled for Thursday.
Australian Open: 600 to quarantine days before Grand Slam
Between 500 and 600 players, officials and support staff will have to isolate in their hotel rooms until they have a negative COVID-19 test result. The Australian Open organizers announced the news on Twitter late Wednesday.
We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible.
There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today. #AusOpen
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 3, 2021
“Health authorities have advised us that a Hotel Quarantine worker has tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement read. “Those associated with the AO who quarantined at the hotel now need to be tested and isolate until they receive a negative test result.
“We will work with everyone involved to facilitated testing as quickly as possible. There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today.”
The individual tested negative on his last day at the hotel, but later tested positive for the virus. The government is working on contact tracing and he is in a medical facility, Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews said via the AP.
“This is one case. There's no need for people to panic," Andrews said. "There's no need for people to be alarmed. We Victorians know what to do, and we have proven, as a state, very successful at managing these sorts of outbreaks, these sorts of issues.”
Victoria officials had announced earlier in the day, before news of the test, that the area had gone 28 days without a case involving local transmission.
Quarantined players considered casual contacts
Those staying at the Grand Hyatt Hotel are all considered casual contacts of the 26-year-old who tested positive, the health department said via The Guardian. Andrews called a late-night news conference to announce the case “through an abundance of caution” and urged anyone showing symptoms to get tested, per reports.
“This is a test that’s come through in the afternoon,” Victoria’s chief health officer Prof Brett Sutton said via The Guardian. “We’ve already ramped up every aspect of the response that we know needs to be in place to get ahead of it.”
There are not expected to be any disruptions to the main draw Grand Slam play that begins Monday, authorities said. Six tournaments are being played in Melbourne this week as a lead-up to the Grand Slam.
First Grand Slam in 2021 runs into problems
Australian has taken COVID-19 protocol seriously and allowed in only a small number of chartered flights for those participating in the Australian Open.
Nearly 100 players, staff and personnel had to go into a hard quarantine for 14 days after individuals on three chartered flights tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in the country. Those individuals would have left the quarantine measures over the weekend. Unlike others, they were not allowed outside to train and had to stay in their rooms.
The COVID-19 death count in Australia is 909, with 820 of them in Victoria. Most of those deaths are from a second deadly wave last year, per the AP. There have been more than 28,000 cases. The Australian Open is currently still planning to host up to 30,000 spectators daily throughout the two-week tournament.
The United States has had more than 446,000 deaths as of Wednesday morning and more than 26.4 million reported cases. New York hosted the US Open at Flushing Meadows in October under strict guidelines and without fans.
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