All tennis games scheduled for Thursday in Melbourne have been postponed after a hotel worker tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Up to 600 players, staff and coaches are currently in isolation after being seen as close contacts.
Organizers of the various Australian Open pre-events are currently planning to reschedule matches for Friday and beyond.
Here’s everything we currently know about the situation.
HOTEL MELBOURNE COVIDATED EPIDEMIC – WHAT IS HAPPENING?
A 26-year-old man who worked as a resident support agent in quarantine Australian Open hotels has tested positive for COVID-19.
The man worked at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. He tested negative after his last shift on January 29, but then returned a positive COVID test.
As a result, the Victorian government reintroduced mandatory rules on masks and limited the number of visitors allowed into homes.
HAS THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN STILL ADVANCED?
At this point, yes.
While there are disruptions in readiness events, Andrews stressed officials have only discovered one positive COVID test yet.
The prime minister said Wednesday night’s swift actions were designed to stop an even larger outbreak.
With that in mind, the Australian Open continues on Monday.
“At this point there is no impact on the tournament (Australian Open) itself,” Andrews said.
“We have a case. We will work very hard to keep the numbers as low as possible. Decisions have been made, and we will proceed as we can.”
On Thursday morning Andrews added: “We all understand that there are no guarantees in any of this, but at this point the tournament shouldn’t be affected by this.
“These things can change.”
ARE TENNIS PLAYERS IMPACTED BY THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC IN MELBOURNE?
Up to 600 players and support staff who were staying at the Grand Hyatt between Jan. 16 and 29 were considered close contacts.
They all have to go into isolation until they return a negative COVID-19 test.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR AUSTRALIAN OPEN LEAD-UP EVENTS?
All tennis was called off for Thursday, throwing the ATP Cup, three WTA events (Yarra Valley Classic, Gippsland Trophy and Grampians Trophy) and two other ATP events (Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open) into disarray.
The organizers of the Australian Open confirmed the disruption overnight.
“Health authorities have informed us that an employee of the hotel quarantine has tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement read.
“People associated with AO who have quarantined themselves at the hotel must now be tested and isolated until they receive a negative test result.
“We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible.
“There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. A schedule update for Friday will be announced later today.”
Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews also confirmed that up to 600 tennis-related people have been affected.
“There are a number – around 500 or 600 people – who are either players and officials and others who are casual contacts,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Wednesday.
“They will self-isolate until they test negative. And this work will be done tomorrow (Thursday).
ARE ALL MELBOURNE TENNIS PLAYERS IMPACTED?
Not all of the players currently in Melbourne were considered close contacts.
Although the preliminary tournaments have been postponed, players who have not been ordered to quarantine are free to train at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
Tournament organizers will reschedule Thursday’s matches and have an updated plan later today.
PREMIER DAN ANDREWS, REFUSED TENNIS PLAYERS RECEIVE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT
With 500 to 600 people isolated, Andrews has been forced to deny that tennis players are receiving preferential treatment during the current outbreak.
“People are not treated any differently,” he told a press conference Thursday morning.
“I was presented with a list of requests from various tennis players and the answer was no. I think I have indeed demonstrated that they do not receive special treatment.
“Classification of people according to their risk and therefore the public health response, what they have to do, these are not judgments that I make, they are judgments made by public health experts.”
There was some confusion on Wednesday night when news broke regarding Thursday’s tennis closings.
As usual, players posted their thoughts on social media.
Jim Courier gave a decent breakdown of what was going on in Melbourne.