Positive tests cause Australian Open player havoc

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is believed to be among a group of players set to be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days after two positive coronavirus tests emerged from their charter flight to Melbourne.

A leaked email from Tennis Australia sent to all players and officials who were aboard a flight out of Los Angeles, stated they would no longer be able to leave their quarantine hotel to train.

The email read: “Unfortunately we have been informed by the health authorities that two people on your flight from LAX that arrived at 5:15am on Friday 15 January have returned positive COVID-19 PCR tests on arrival to Melbourne.

“The Chief Health Officer has reviewed the flight and has determined that everyone on board needs to isolate and will be confined to their rooms for the 14-day quarantine period.

“We know this is not how you imagined your preparations for the AO would start but our entire team is here to support and do everything we can to get you through this.”

Under original guidelines the players were permitted to leave their hotels for up to five hours to train.

As well as Azarenka who won the title in 2012 and ’13, American Sloane Stephens and Japanese star Kei Nishikori were also on the flight.

Nishikori had COVID back in August.

All passengers were required to return negative tests within 72 hours of departure, but two tested positive upon arrival.

It’s unclear if they were players, support staff or officials.

American Tennys Sandgren, who was cleared to fly when his recent positive test was deemed to be viral shedding, was also believed to be on board. But he is not said to be linked to the new positives.

New York Times reporter Karen Crouse was on board the flight but was already in hard lockdown, without the player training exemption.

“Two positive COVID tests on the LA charter. I feel terrible for all the players aboard who now won’t be allowed to practise for the next two weeks except on the exercise bikes the Australian Open delivered to their rooms,” she tweeted.

She called for the names of those who tested positive to be made public and said she would reveal any change to her results.

“I promise you, if (when??) I test positive, which seems ever more likely now given the confines of a plane, I will let you know,” Crouse wrote.

Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.

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