After two more COVID-19 cases were recorded at the Australian Open this week, Tournament Director Craig Tiley has provided some clarity on the tournament’s handling of the quarantine situation.
Tiley spoke on the AO Show podcast on Wednesday morning to explain that the two new positive cases were members of the travelling party who were shedding the virus and were non-infectious.
“The confusion comes because if you get a positive case, they [the health authorities] will do a review of your case. You may be someone who is virally shedding as well as being a recovered case, and therefore you’re not infectious,” Tiley said on the podcast.
The same situation occurred with American world No.50 Tennys Sandgren.
Sandgren tested positive for the virus prior to travelling to Melbourne but was still able to board the flight after health officials confirmed the American was just shedding the virus.
“We’ve only had a total of six cases coming into Melbourne, and those six are all in the health hotel, where they’re monitored, will stay there for 14 days, and will then come out.”
But in what’s been a developing saga this week, several players have taken to social media to take aim at tournament directors, voicing concerns about the 14-day quarantine.
Tiley addressed those player’s concerns on the podcast, empathising with the players that the situation was challenging, but that there was an overriding responsibility to respect the processes in place to ensure the safety of the wider Victorian community.
“Some of the players have been making comments about being locked up in their rooms, and we get it, this is difficult if you come from a different culture or part of the world where you haven’t had to do that, it is new. We are used to it because it’s become part of our operational environment now,” Tiley said.
“The whole idea of the 14-day quarantine is that there is zero risk of the virus spreading after 14 days.”
“But there is still a very small risk, I believe between 3-5%, as I’ve been told by the chief medical officer, of spreading the virus during the last four days of quarantine.”
“We obviously need to do our part in ensuring that the community is safe.”Embed from Getty Images
Professor Catherine Bennet, chair of epidemiology at Deakin University praised the strict approach and work of Australian Open organisers stating daily testing protocols were the key to ensuring that there was little risk of the virus spreading.
“That [daily testing] is really smart and is more than what other countries hosting events have done. And so if someone’s got enough virus to test positive, then you’re catching them probably on their first day of being infectious.”
With a nine-day buffer between the end of quarantine and the start of the Australian Open, Tiley asserted he was committed to helping those players in strict quarantine prepare for the grand slam.
Japan’s Taro Daniel, who is currently one of 72 players undergoing stricter quarantine measures, shared a video on Twitter showing off some of the equipment Tennis Australia had delivered to his hotel room that included an exercise bike and some weights.
English version. Day 5 quarantine update. Grateful for these equipments! pic.twitter.com/KwES6QTkgb— ダニエル太郎/Taro Daniel (@tarodaniel93) January 20, 2021
Despite the quarantine issues, Tiley asserted that the event was shaping up well and would showcase Australia’s sporting prowess to the rest of the world.
“We can signal to the rest of the world that Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world because they attempted to put on a global sporting event with over 1000 athletes and their teams coming into one city doing quarantine for 14 days and then competing for 83 million dollars over four weeks.”
Although Tiley remained focused that the overriding importance is ensuring public safety at the event.
“From our point of view, we would not have put this event on without the advice and the approval of the Victorian Government and the health authorities, including the federal team.”
“We are putting this event on with that approval, and obviously the objective and the processes we have in place to protect the community have been critical, and that’s been the most important thing.”
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