Australian Open: Heather Watson among 47 players isolating after positive coronavirus tests on flights
In total, forty-seven players will be forced to remain in their hotel rooms for 14 days following four positive Covid-19 tests on two different chartered flights; infected four are not players; the Australian Open begins on February 8 in Melbourne
Last Updated: 17/01/21 3:41pm
Heather Watson is among 47 players competing in the Australian Open who must quarantine for 14 days following three positive Covid-19 tests on chartered flights.
Three people on a chartered flight from Los Angeles carrying 24 players returned positive swabs upon their arrival in Melbourne.
On a later flight from Abu Dhabi, a sole passenger on a plane carrying 23 players also returned a positive result.
Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services said the infected four were not players.
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Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar added on Sunday that the fourth positive test was returned by a broadcast team member on the flight from Los Angeles.
"It's important to note that all the four positives all had a negative test result prior to boarding the plane.
"I can confirm that all player and training partner test results are now in," she said.
The world's top players began arriving in the country on a series of charter jets on Thursday ahead of a two-week quarantine period, during which they will be allowed out of their rooms to practice for five hours a day.
But those players and support staff on the affected flights will now be confined to their rooms for a fortnight - with British No 2 Watson one of those affected.
One person on the flight I was on from Abu Dhabi tested positive. So now everyone else who was on that flight has a 14 day quarantine where we are NOT allowed out our rooms. The same happened on one of the chartered flights from Los Angeles. 2 flights... so far pic.twitter.com/3JfkjqETwu— Heather Watson (@HeatherWatson92) January 16, 2021
The 28-year-old tweeted: "One person on the flight I was on from Abu Dhabi tested positive. So now everyone else who was on that flight has a 14-day quarantine where we are NOT allowed out our rooms.
"The same happened on one of the chartered flights from Los Angeles. 2 flights… so far."
The Australian Open begins on February 8, meaning those players on the affected flights will be restricted to little more than a week of practice.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told Channel 9 TV: "I totally understand the emotion the players are going through right now as well as their objection to the situation.
"The determination of who was and who wasn't a close contact was going to be entirely up to the health department, and they're doing what they deem is necessary in order to keep our community safe.
"Obviously what has changed over the last several weeks is the new UK strain, which is more infectious, and there's obviously a great desire by all of us to make sure that doesn't come into our community.
"These conditions, they are constantly changing, but there's always a risk. We did make it very clear at the beginning, that's why we had the player groups in cohorts, there was always a risk that someone would be positive then and have to go into 14 days of isolation, there was a risk on the plane that you would be a close contact, there was a risk that everyone could be a close contact.
"It is unfortunate that we're in an environment now where we've got to manage it."
Tournament organisers spent several months negotiating an arrangement regarding the admission of more than 1,000 tennis players and associated personnel to Australia.
Andy Murray's participation at the first major of the year remains in doubt after he tested positive for Covid-19.
The former world No 1, 33, was due to travel to Australia on one of the charter flights laid on by tournament organisers but is isolating at home.