Australia’s COVID-19 quarantine measures are notoriously strict.
New arrivals must complete a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine in the city they arrive in. Last year we saw everyone from British strongman Ross Edgley to actor Daniel MacPherson doing their best to keep fit in quarantine.
Now, with the Australian Open due to start on February the 8th, players from around the globe are getting a taste of isolation. Some are not happy, claiming they have been put in sub-par hotels and that they were not accurately informed about the quarantine rules.
People complaining we are entitled. I have no issues to stay 14 days in the room watching netflix. Believe me this is a dream come true, holiday even. What we cant do is COMPETE after we have stayed 14 days on a couch. This is the issue,not the quarantine rule.
— Sorana Cirstea (@sorana_cirstea) January 16, 2021
Enter: Yulia Putintseva, the current world number 28 tennis player, who made headlines over the weekend by posting a video of what appeared to be a rat in her hotel room.
Putintseva is among 47 players and their teams who have been told to isolate for two weeks in their hotel rooms after two positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed on a flight from Los Angeles, and another case was confirmed on a flight from Abu Dhabi.
— Anastasia Potapova/Анастасия Потапова (@nastiaapotapova) January 18, 2021
Players on those flights are considered close contacts, and will be unable to leave their hotel rooms for two weeks, as part of a hard lockdown.
“Putintseva was one of a number of players critical of the hard quarantine situation,” Sporting News reported, with world number 11 Belinda Bencic saying the rules around COVID-19 cases changed after she landed in Australia.
Actually, no we didn‘t. We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about. https://t.co/WSnpmENk1r
— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) January 16, 2021
“We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about.”
The upshot? Both Putintseva and Bencic can now be seen getting in a spot of grand slam training, quite literally bouncing off the walls, playing tennis against the walls of their respective hotel rooms.
Their posts sparked much debate online, not just about the Australian hotel quarantine experience, but also around the current, limited, arrival caps.
“I’m glad all the pro tennis players on the positive Covid flight are in quarantine,” one Instagram user wrote underneath Putintseva’s video. “It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you’re worth, you’re all treated the same. Thanks for keeping Australia as safe as we can from the pandemic that has rocked the world. You’ll all be out in no time. Good work Australia for using our island as our strength.”
“The whiney voice of privilege….god it’s shrill,” wrote another.
Further comments included:
“From a stranded Australian I say, this is the risk you took,. 37000 Aussies would give anything to be in your place. Go out their and do your best and be their voice after you leave. Good luck with your tournament. When you guys post be aware that you were put ahead of Australian citizens to be there. In a safe country to play your sport. And this happened because of the sacrifice if Melbournians who endured one of the harshest lockdown in the world.”
“Shouldn’t be complaining that Australia wants to keep corona out of the community. All the tennis players are lucky to even be let in.. so many citizens still waiting to come home.”
“You are a warrior! Stay strong. Not right to force everyone go on quarantine who has tested NEGATIVE. We will all fight for your basic human rights.”
“So you’re my neighbor,” world number 55, Shelby Rogers wrote.
Bencic took things a step further, writing, “wrong surface but that doesn’t matter for us,” and posting a video in which she can be seen playing tennis against her window.
Wrong surface but that doesn‘t matter for us💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/R8FsdyGafy
— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) January 17, 2021
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas got in on the action too, as did Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, who took Belarus’ Sabalenka Aryna up on her #grandhyattchallenge.
Bring on the world hotel carpet tour for 2021?