MELBOURNE (Dispatches) - Organizers of the Australian Open have ruled out reducing the men’s tournament at the Grand Slam to best-of-three sets due to players’ inability to train at required level amid the strict COVID-19 quarantine rules.
A total of 72 players are currently not allowed to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days after some passengers on three charter flights to Australia tested positive for COVID-19 infections.
The rest of the players, who travelled by 14 other charter flights from across the world, are allowed five hours daily outside their hotel rooms to spend on preparing for the year’s first tennis major from Feb 8-21.
Some players and pundits have said they feared the lack of training activities could make athletes vulnerable to injuries during the Grand Slam and called on organizers Tennis Australia to consider reducing the men’s event from best-of-five sets.
On Wednesday, world number one Novak Djokovic hit back at criticism of his letter to Australian Open chief Craig Tiley in which he suggested easing of quarantine restrictions, saying his good intentions were "misconstrued”.
As many as 72 players are confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open after passengers on three charter flights carrying them to Melbourne tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Djokovic reportedly asked for reduced isolation periods and having players in hard quarantine moved to "private houses with tennis courts”, drawing a backlash from Australians.