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3 Feb, 2021 15:19

'No need to be alarmed' says official as up to 600 Australian Open players, staff forced to quarantine ONE WEEK before tournament

'No need to be alarmed' says official as up to 600 Australian Open players, staff forced to quarantine ONE WEEK before tournament

Next week's Australian Open has been thrown into more chaos after it emerged that between 500-600 players and officials have been forced back into quarantine after a staff member at the event hotel tested positive for Covid-19.

Just days after completing a two-week quarantine period which was mandated by the Australian government, some of tennis' biggest names look set to be reacquainted with the four walls of their hotel rooms once again after it emerged that hundreds of people associated with the Australian Open will be forced to isolate themselves after a hotel staff member contracted the potentially deadly virus.

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Australian Open officials say that - as of now, at least - there will be no impact to the start of the tournament next week, as players will be cleared to exit quarantine once they provide a negative test for Covid-19. 

"At this stage there is no impact on the tournament proper," promised Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who also confirmed that the six warm-up events being played in advance of the Australian Open might well be impacted - with Thursday's scheduled matches immediately in the firing line.

In fact, tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios has already expressed on social media that he doesn't know if his scheduled match on Thursday will proceed as planned.

The Australian Open has already felt the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, with the start date being pushed back by three weeks to allow for correct quarantine procedures to be implemented - but this didn't go down well with a host of the sport's biggest stars. 

The world's number one player, Novak Djokovic, was among a throng of players to complain about the conditions of their enforced two-week isolation period as he petitioned tennis authorities to allow for players to quarantine in private homes which had access to training facilities. He also demanded that players be allowed access their coaching staffs, in a move which saw some as against the spirit of the Coronavirus guidelines.

The renewed quarantine requirements come as a 26-year-old worker tested positive for Covid-19 at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Melbourne's Central Business District - with somewhere between 500-600 players and officials deemed to have been "casual contacts".

"This is one case, there is no need for people to be panicked or alarmed," continued Andrews. 

"We have proved as a state very successful in managing these sort of outbreaks and issues. We have one case and the decision has been made: the event will proceed next week."

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However, with much of sport having subscribed to the Murphy's Law of 'what can go wrong, will go wrong' since Covid-19 began to decimate sport last year, Australian Open officials will be hoping that the wave of tests the must complete in advance of Monday's tournament opener all return negative - lest the specter of the coronavirus have its impact felt on the global sporting calendar once more.