News Coronavirus Spain’s tennis officials regret flying off the handle over Australian Open’s COVID quarantine
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Spain’s tennis officials regret flying off the handle over Australian Open’s COVID quarantine

Rising star Carlos Alcaraz was one of two Spanish players at the centre of the dispute. Photo: YouTube
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Spain’s tennis federation (RFET) on Saturday apologised to Tennis Australia (TA) after complaining about the treatment of two Spanish players in quarantine before next month’s Australian Open.

More than 70 players have been confined to their rooms after some passengers on three charter flights that brought them to Australia tested positive for the new coronavirus. Other players are able to train for up to five hours a day.

Three more Open visitors, already in hotel quarantine, were confirmed to be carrying a more highly contagious strain of virus on Saturday.

“We apologise to TA if our statement has at any time been interpreted as a criticism of their working methods, nothing is further from our intention,” RFET said in a statement.

The federation had said on Thursday that two players – Mario Vilella and Carlos Alcaraz – had not been informed they would be strictly confined if they were on a flight with someone who tested positive “regardless of the physical proximity”.

In the earlier statement it said it was clear the duo would not be able to compete on “equal terms” at the major and the confinement could result in physical and psychological harm.

On Saturday RFET said its intention had been “to request the Australian Open, with utmost respect for their skills, the possibility of exploring safe training options for Spanish players affected by isolation for 14 days.”

“This initiative is based on good faith and in no way calls into question the actions of the Australian government or the Australian Open.”

Fiery on the court, Mario Vilella is cooling his heels in quarantine.

On Saturday, there were three new cases recorded among international arrivals in hotel quarantine in Victoria.

Spain’s Paula Badosa on Thursday became the first player who had entered for the grand slam to confirm a positive test.

“The RFET thanks TA for the effort to organise, in these difficult moments due to the pandemic, the first grand slam of the season, something vital for our players who are going to compete again and generate resources,” RFET added.

The Australian Open begins on February 8.

-with AAP