New Zealand doubles player Artem Sitak has added a new perspective to the COVID-19 quarantine debate that has engulfed the preparation for the Australian Open.
Sitak was one of 47 players on the two flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne which included four passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Players have now been forced to spend 14 days of strict quarantine in hotel rooms, which will greatly affect their preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year.
Some players complained about “torture” in quarantine and others have claimed they were not aware of the risks before traveling to Australia – or that only sections of a plane with confirmed cases would then be forced to self-isolate.
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Female players Yulia Putinseva and Sorana Cirstea have said they might have skipped the Australian Open if they had known there would be such strict rules on close COVID-19 contact.
“What I don’t understand is, why no one has ever told us, if someone on board is sure the whole plane needs to be isolated. I would think twice before I come here “Putinva wrote on Twitter.
But Sitak exploded some myths in a video shared on social media.
“I wanted to clarify something,” Sitak said from his hotel room.
“We had a call with Tennis Australia about a month ago and not many players were on that call, which surprised me.
“But hey, it was like that.
“Basically Tennis Australia, the organizers, told us the risks we were going to take and they mentioned that if anyone tests positive on the flight, it will be up to the health authorities to decide whether to quarantine the entire flight. Or simply isolate the compartments of the aircraft.
“Now in our case, where the flight attendant has tested positive, of course the whole plane has to be quarantined.
“So knowing the very, very strict Australian government rules regarding the virus, after that call, in my mind I knew that if for some reason someone tested positive on the plane, I should be put in quarantine for 14 days.
“So I was ready to take that risk and I knew it was a possibility.
“I hoped that didn’t happen.”
Sitak also took a different approach for some players complaining about their treatment or the quality of their hotel food.
Australian Open virus cases drop to four
“I think we need to put some things in perspective,” Sitak said.
“A lot of Australians right now can’t go home, because of the restrictions and all that, and we as foreigners, over 1000 people, we’re here in Australia, we’re going to be in a Grand Slam, earn a lot of money.
“And the amount of work Tennis Australia put into organizing all of this is absolutely insane – I can’t even imagine how much work and how many hours they put in to get it done.
“So I just wanted to take a step back – we’re still lucky to be here.
“It’s unfortunate the circumstances of the quarantine, but that’s how it is.”