World No.1 Novak Djokovic has reportedly issued a list of demands to Australian Open organisers to aid the growing number of players affected by hard quarantine.
Djokovic sent his proposals to Open chief Craig Tiley after five positive COVID tests among international players and support crew arriving in Melbourne forced them into full quarantine.
The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria, Emma Cassar, repeated on Melbourne radio 3AW on Monday morning that the quarantine program won’t be altered.
“It’s a firm NO from me,” she told Neil Mitchell, saying there will be no modifications to the rules and for players and staff to stay in their rooms.
There are now 72 players isolating in hotel rooms after three Australian Open charter flights brought in passengers who later tested positive to the virus.
The players will be confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days.
Some of the players have argued about the Victorian health department’s requirements, saying they weren’t fully informed of the implications of sharing a flight with a passenger who was later confirmed with COVID.
Djokovic, a former president of the ATP Player Council before he resigned to set up the Professional Tennis Players Association, presented his list of demands late on Sunday.
Among the points, according to Spanish tennis website Punto de Break, Djokovic wants the days of isolation reduced, the ability for players to see their coach or trainer, and as many players as possible moved to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training.
Ms Cassar has already said that the quarantine program won’t be altered.
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances,” Ms Cassar said on Sunday.
Djokovic’s demands have been criticised on social media given his involvement in organising the shambolic Adria Tour, a tennis exhibition series in Serbia and Croatia held without any social distancing measures in place that resulted in positive COVID-19 cases to numerous players involved – including the Serbian himself.
Djokovic and some the game’s biggest stars, including Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, are preparing for the Open in Adelaide, where they will play an exhibition on January 29.
There have been claims those players have better training conditions and were allowed to bring more staff than the one person allocated to players in Melbourne.
Despite the chaos, Mr Tiley has ruled out delaying the tennis grand slam a second time after it was initially put back three weeks.
Ms Cassar said the presence of police had been increased at the Open hotels and added that there had been cases of “challenging behaviour” from some confined players and support staff.
She cited two cases when hotel room doors were opened to have a conversation or shout down the hallway.
“There is zero tolerance for breaches,” she said.
“It’s low level but dangerous acts that we just can’t tolerate.”
- ‘Witch hunt’: Djokovic slams criticism of virus-hit Adria Tour
- World No.1 opposed to compulsory COVID vaccinations
Ms Cassar warned players and support staff could be fined up to $20,000 or repeat offenders transferred to the complex care hotel where they have a police officer stationed outside their door.
More than 1200 players, coaches, staff members and officials are due in Melbourne for the 2021 Australian Open, which starts on February 8.