Tennis Big Four member tests positive to COVID-19
Andy Murray has tested positive for COVID-19 but still wants to come to Melbourne to play in the Australian Open.
The British former world number one, who had made a remarkable recovery from injury, was in discussions with tournament organisers about when he would be allowed to enter Australia.
The news comes amid concerns that flying more than 1200 tennis players and their entourage into Melbourne will increase the risk of a new coronavirus outbreak.
And the allowance for the players to play in Melbourne comes at the same time as tens of thousands of Australians are waiting to get home because of strict flight caps and quarantine.
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Murray, 33, was understood to be in good health and was hoping he could delay his arrival into Melbourne, ahead of the tournament starting on February 8.
His team was working with tournament director Craig Tiley to find a work around to his positive test.
Murray was isolating at home but there were no details of when he had caught the virus, which has been swarming across the UK with as many as 1 in 20 people infected in some parts of London.
Britain was in its third national lockdown, with intensive care units in hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed.
Coronavirus usually takes 14 days to clear.
With three weeks to go before the Open was due to start, it will be a race against time for Murray, because all players had to have a negative test to fly to Australia and undergo 14 days quarantine.
Players were due to travel to Australia on charter flights, which Murray was now likely to miss.
Murray would cause a diplomatic headache if he was allowed to travel on a commercial flight, which could potentially bump off an Australian wanting to get home unless an exemption was made.
He may also need to charter his own plane, which would come at considerable cost.
Players were due to arrive in Melbourne in the next 24 hours and will be housed at the Grand Hyatt, Pullman Albert Park and View Melbourne.
Apartment owners in the Westin Hotel threatened legal action when players were planned to be put up there during the tournament, which was a short walk from Melbourne Park.
They will be allowed out for five hours a day of training in a special bubble if they test negative on day two.
And players will be tested each day as Melbourne attempts to keep its "doughnut days" of zero community transmission cases following one of the world's strictest lockdowns last year.
Wimbledon was cancelled last year because of coronavirus, however the organisers had insurance.
The Australian Open was set to kickstart tennis again as vaccines become more available throughout the world, bringing hope that normal life may resume at some point later this year.
HOW DID 'COVID POSITIVE' STAR BOARD FLIGHT TO MELBOURNE?
American tennis player Tennys Sandgren received special government clearance to travel to Melbourne despite twice testing positive to COVID-19, including as recently as Monday.
The dual Australian Open quarter-finalist posted a frenzy of updates on his Twitter account on Thursday that cast doubt on whether he would be able to leave Los Angeles for Australia.
Sandgren originally believed he wouldn't be able to depart, then thought he would be delayed until Friday, before suddenly tweeting he was on the plane headed for Melbourne.
Tennis Australia was forced to clarify the baffling circumstances, given rules stated that players, support staff and officials must test negative before boarding any of the 15 charter flights.
Anyone travelling to the Australian Open who previously tested positive to the coronavirus, like Sandgren, must provide additional and detailed medical information as proof they are recovered or no longer infectious.
"In the case of Tennys Sandgren, who has self-disclosed that he previously tested positive in late November, his medical file had to be reviewed by Victorian health authorities," TA's statement read.
"Upon completion of that review, he was cleared to fly."
Covid positive over thanksgiving— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) January 13, 2021
Covid positive on monday
Yet pcr tests are the “gold standard”?
Atleast I get to keep my points 😂
An earlier TA response at the Herald Sun's request stated that "some people who have recovered from COVID-19 and who are non-infectious can continue to shed the virus for several months".
Police Minister Lisa Neville backed the Sandgren decision, tweeting: "No one who is COVID positive for the first time - or could still be infectious - will be allowed in for the Aus Open."
Sandgren, who initially tested positive on Thanksgiving, on November 26, credited TA chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley with solving the issue.
"Wow I'm on the plane," the world No.50 tweeted.
"Maybe I just held my breath too long. Craig Tiley is a wizard."
Strict government guidelines demand all international arrivals be tested on landing, before isolating in their hotel - under COVID Quarantine Victoria authority - until they receive another negative result.
They are then tested daily throughout their mandatory 14-day quarantine period, during which they can leave their hotel room to train for a maximum of five hours a day.
There was one more twist on Sandgren's dramatic day, when his charter flight departing LAX airport was forced to briefly return to its gate before leaving for Melbourne.
Originally published as Tennis Big Four member tests positive to COVID-19
Heard from several passengers onboard now that the #AusOpen flight leaving from LAX has been forced to returned to its gate. 😬— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 14, 2021
A lot couch virologists out there. My two tests were less than 8 weeks a part. I was sick in November, totally healthy now. There’s not a single documented case where I would be contagious at this point. Totally recovered!— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) January 14, 2021