Australian government officials have adamantly refused to loosen quarantine restrictions for tennis players, despite complaints from some pros and an apparent letter from Novak Djokovic to Australian Open officials.
There are now 72 players who have been told they must abide by strict quarantine in Melbourne following positive coronavirus tests among some traveling on their flights. Players are otherwise allowed to leave their rooms to train for five hours a day, creating concern about some competitors being at a disadvantage.
According to the Punto de Break website, Djokovic sent a letter to Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley, calling for players to receive more training equipment and food "according to the level of the tournament and an elite athlete" supplied for them. Numerous players have complained about the food delivered to their rooms, though they are also allowed to order their own.
The letter also asked for affected players to receive reduced quarantines upon extra testing and be allowed to interact with their coaches and trainers—also with extra testing—and be on the same floor of the hotel. In addition, it asked for players to be moved to private housing—with courts where possible.
Actually, no we didn‘t. We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about. https://t.co/WSnpmENk1r— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) January 16, 2021
But Dan Andrews, the Premier of the state of Victoria where the Australian Open is played, stated there would be no changes to the quarantine requirements.
"The rules will not be changing," he said. "People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no. I know that there's been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules. [But] the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else."
Claims that protocols had been changed or that players had not been informed had "no integrity" to them, he added.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated, "It’s time for people to follow the rules, do their quarantine and play tennis," adding that he expected players would create a "great spectacle" and the tournament would proceed as planned.
The official in charge of quarantine in Victoria, Emma Cassar, said they were "absolutely not" changing the program. "We understand the 14 days is really tough," she said in an interview with a local radio station. "But we're not taking risks on community safety."
A small group of top players, including Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, are in quarantine in Adelaide instead of Melbourne, where they will play an exhibition.