Tennis Australia says it will support Australian Open players who have to self-isolate

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A Canadian tennis coach who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open has apologised for the disruption and says he has no idea how he caught the virus.

Dozens of players who flew into Melbourne for the Australian Open will be confined to their rooms and unable to train outside for 14 days after passengers on two chartered flights tested positive for COVID-19.

There were two cases on QR7493 from the United States — a flight crew member and a tournament participant who is not a player — and another non-player on EY8004 from the United Emirates, COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria confirmed yesterday.

Sylvain Bruneau, the coach of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, was on flight EY8004 which arrived in Melbourne on Friday.

He said he had followed all COVID safety protocols, including testing negative within 72 hours before the flight departure, and was “deeply sorry” about his positive result.

“I also respected and followed all COVID protocols and guidelines while in the Middle East. I have no idea how I might have contracted this virus,” he said in a statement Tennis Canada posted on Twitter.

“I am extremely saddened and sorry for the consequences now on everyone’s shoulders sharing my flight.

“The rest of my team is negative, and I sincerely hope that any further disruption is kept to a minimum.”

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Under the Australian Open quarantine rules, COVID-negative players are allowed to leave their rooms for five hours training per day during their two-week hotel quarantine period.

But because of the recent positive cases, all passengers on those planes are considered close contacts and will not be allowed to leave their rooms at all for those 14 days.

Some tennis players have said they were not aware that an entire flight would be required to isolate if someone tested positive, and have argued the rules put them at a disadvantage.

“What I don’t understand is that, why no-one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated … I would think twice before coming here,” Kazakh player Yulia Putintseva said on Twitter.

LIVE UPDATES: Read our blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Romanian player Sorona Cirstea said after isolating for two weeks, she would need “at least three weeks after in order to be in decent form again and compete at a high level”.

She also said she was not aware everyone on a flight would be considered a close contact if a passenger tested positive.

“I have no issues to stay 14 days in the room watching Netflix. Believe me this a dream come true, holiday even,” she said on Twitter.

“What we cant do is COMPETE after we have stayed 14 days on a couch. This is the issue, not the quarantine rule.”

Swiss tennis player Belinda Bencic said after arriving in Melbourne, players received an information book with rules they did not know about before they decided to compete in the Australian Open.

“We are not complaining to be in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments,” she said on Twitter.

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Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said officials would do whatever they could to “make it as fair as possible” for players who were in isolation.

“This is not an ideal situation — in the pandemic right now it’s not an ideal situation for anyone — we’ve got to play our part to ensure the community stays safe, and that was the objective all along,” he said on the Today Show.

“Our Chief Health Officer is ensuring that, and we made a commitment to the community of that, so it is unfortunate, but we’re going to do whatever we can to make a bad situation better.”

He said Tennis Australia made it clear that if someone tested positive, there was a risk of other Australian Open participants being required to self-isolate.

“The determination of who was and who wasn’t a close contact was going to be entirely up to the Health Department, and they’re doing what they deem is necessary to keep our community safe,” he said.



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