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Australian Open resumes after one COVID case sends 507 people into quarantine

By Tanya Lara Published Feb 05, 2021 5:30 am

A worker in a quarantine hotel where tennis players were staying in Melbourne, Australia tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 3. This one infection forced organizers of the Australian Open to quarantine 160 players, 314 staff and officials—a total of 507 people.

Australian Open is the first major tennis tournament of the year. It’s set to begin on Monday, Feb. 8, and will end on Feb. 21.

Six warm-up matches were cancelled yesterday, Feb. 4, and rescheduled today, Feb. 5, on the condition of negative tests.

CNN reported that prior to the 26-year-old volunteer firefighter working as support in the tournament, no local transmission was recorded for the past 28 days.

Australian Open is the first of four grand slam events of the year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the 500 to 600 people staying at the Grand Hyatt Hotel were considered “close contacts.” The protocols, he said, were put in place “through an abundance of caution.”

Players arrived in mid-January and were put in state quarantine for 14 days. They could not go out of their rooms or practice during this time.

Former American champion and now commentator Jim Courier told the Tennis Channel yesterday, “It has been a wild and woolly couple of weeks down here already with one player testing positive, as we know, and several other people testing positive.

“What is really interesting and somewhat troublesome is that this hotel worker tested positive after we had all left and over a week since the last person within our group had tested positive for COVID.

Defending champion Novak Djokovich

“That is a long transmission period which gives me great concern. The next 24 hours are going to be really important for us all who stayed at the Hyatt ... we will hope for the best.”

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic successfully defended his title in 2020 by defeating Dominic Thiem to win the tournament for the eighth time.

Rafael Nadal is looking to win his 21st major title. 

Rafael Nadal, “who equalled Roger Federers 20 majors with a 13th Roland Garros championship in October 2020, is looking to win his 21st major title,” according to ATP Tour. 

Played at three primary courts in Melbourne Park—the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena—the Australian Open is the first of four grand slam events of the year. It precedes the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.