MELBOURNE: Some players at the Australian Open are being allowed to leave hotel quarantine after completing their 14-day isolation. It is a week before the event starts.
Organisers believe that by Sunday, around 500 players will leave their hotels in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal and other high-profile players such as Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams were among those allowed out on Friday. The tournament begins on 8 February.
Australian Open players’ quarantine rules
Over 1,700 players, staff and others involved in the Grand Slam flew into Australia on chartered flights, in early January. Unlike other travellers arriving in Australia, who have to stay full-time in hotel rooms, the players can leave their rooms for five hours a day to practice on court and exercise.
One group of 72 players was confined to their rooms in Melbourne after other passengers on their flights tested positive for the coronavirus.
Spanish player Paula Badosa is among the eight positive cases so far.
Players criticised conditions
Many players complained about the quarantine. Nadal has been criticised by some for not speaking up on behalf of the players. Fellow Spaniard, Guido Pella expressed ‘surprise’ at Nadal’s silence.
However, Nadal has hit back. He argued that he prefers to keep any discussions he had about quarantine conditions or other player concerns under wraps.
“We all try to help each other,” Nadal told ESPN. “Some need to make public all they do to try to help others, while some of us do it privately without publishing our calls or making propaganda with it.”
Nadal appreciates that for some the situation is not ideal, but urged players to have a “wider perspective.”
“I feel very sorry for all of them but when we came here, we knew that the measures were going to be strict because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic,” Nadal told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
Nadal on panedmic
Melbourne had one of the world’s longest lockdowns last year. Many locals have concerns about the risk posed by the tournament.
“It’s normal to complain […] but on the other hand you see how many are dying around the world. You see how many people are losing their father, their mum, without having the chance to say goodbye,” continued Nadal.
“It’s a real thing, not a philosophical thing, that’s real life. That’s what’s happening in my country. Close people to me are suffering this situation.”