Australian Open officials reject Novak Djokovic’s demands for players in hard quarantine

As many as 72 players are in the midst of a hard 14-day lockdown after cases of passengers infected with Covid-19 on their respective flights to Melbourne for the opening Grand Slam of the year. 

Djokovic had reportedly written a letter of demands to tournament director Craig Tiley including moving as many players as possible to private houses with tennis courts to enable them to train, and to reduce the period of quarantine courtesy of more testing. 

In addition, the 17-time Grand Slam champion also asked for permission for coaches and trainers to visit their players, and be housed on the same floor of their hotel. 

But the Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews said: “People are free to provide a list of demands but the answer is no. That was clearly laid out beforehand. So, the notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever. 

“I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules. Well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came. 

“That was the condition on which they came. There’s no special treatment here. People were told what the rules were. 

“The arrangements for the tennis are based on public health advice. The advice was, ‘it’s not easy, it has to be done properly’. Despite commentary from players about what they’d like to do, it’s about what needs to be done.” 

Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Angelique Kerber and Britain’s Heather Watson are among the players currently confined for 14 days to their hotel rooms and unable to practise for five hours a day unlike the remaining players in the draws. 

A host of players have voiced their displeasure at the situation on social media but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back saying, “It’s time for people to follow the rules, do their quarantine and play tennis. They’ll get paid well for it. I’m sure they’ll put on a great spectacle and the Australian Open will go ahead.”

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