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Tennis stars’ arrival for Australian Open irritates Australians

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Tennis players, coaches and officials arrive at a hotel in Melbourne on January 15, 2021, before quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)


The sight of some of the world’s biggest tennis stars touching down for the forthcoming Australian Open has frustrated many Australians unable to return home because of the pandemic.

Australia currently has a weekly cap on the number of international arrivals, with people having to undergo quarantine in a designated facility.

There are roughly 37,000 Australians waiting to return, ABC News reports. A number of airlines have suspended routes making it harder to travel back.
On Friday, Emirates airline announced it would be stopping its flights to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Australian Open have been putting on chartered flights for the players and other members of staff.

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Players had to test negative before boarding flights and were then placed in designated Australian Open quarantine hotels in Melbourne and Adelaide. They are, however, allowed out of their rooms for up to five hours a day to practise on court.

But 47 players who were on flights where passengers later tested positive will now have to be confined to their rooms for two weeks.

The first of these groups, on a flight from Los Angeles, reportedly includes two-times champion Victoria Azarenka and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Tennys Sandgren, who tested positive but was cleared to fly by organisers after his medical file was reviewed, is also believed to have been on the flight.

A second group of 23 players on a flight from United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi suffered the same fate. Both flights arrived on Friday.

Those players will have less than 10 days to practise before the tournament starts on 8 February. Reports say they will have gym equipment delivered to their rooms.

Meanwhile former tennis world number one Andy Murray has been unable to fly out to Australia after the Briton tested positive for coronavirus. Their arrival, while so many Australians are still trying to return home, has drawn criticism.

“I can’t comprehend the fact that one week they announce they’re halving the caps for citizens and the following week they announce they’ve found 1,200 spaces for tennis players and support staff,” Sarah, a key worker who lives in London but is from Sydney, told the BBC.

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