Monday, December 27, 2021
Numerous positive tests
Show tournament ends dearly for tennis stars
At the end of the year, several tennis stars want to collect a generous Christmas bonus: A lavish show tournament is taking place in Abu Dhabi. But the trip to the United Arab Emirates will be expensive for several professionals. Six of them will test positive for the coronavirus.
Rafael Nadal was somewhat perplexed: “We passed checks every two days in both Kuwait and Abu Dhabi and all were negative, most recently on Friday and Saturday,” wrote the tennis pro on Twitter, one day after he finally did had tested positive for the coronavirus. After returning from a show tournament in Abu Dhabi, where the Spaniard made his comeback after a month-long injury break, a PCR test had indicated an infection. What initially seemed to be a prominent individual case is now only the first indication: The tournament in the desert was a superspreader event.
Because after the 20-time Grand Slam winner and his coach Carlos Moya, the Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, 14th in the world rankings, Denis Shapovalov from Canada, the top ten player Ons Jabeur from Tunisia and recently also announced The fifth in the world rankings, Andrei Rublev, had positive tests. They had all taken part in the lavishly endowed show tournament in Abu Dhabi – or wanted to take part: US Open winner Emma Raducanu was there before she had to cancel her participation due to a positive test. Jabeur moved up for the American. With consequences. Now everyone is in isolation and has a common problem: The Australian Open is on January 17th, the first highlight of the tennis season.
The airport as a hotspot?
Due to the isolation, the professionals who wanted to get match practice in the United Arab Emirates in addition to the lavish entry fees, are severely disturbed in their preparation. It is difficult to understand how the outbreak came about. Nadal believes he could have contracted the virus at the airport, Craig Tiley reported. The tournament director of the Australian Open hopes that all stars can compete at his event.
Nadal had originally planned to take part in a preparatory tournament for the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 3. Now, Nadal wrote before Christmas, he had to “make his schedule completely flexible”. Tiley drew up a bill that applies to the Spanish superstar. “When was the test? On December 17th or 18th? So ten days before he is supposed to fly to Australia. He then has two weeks until the tournament.” The international tennis stars and their teams will arrive in Melbourne and Sydney by charter and commercial flights from December 28th. They must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to their flight to Australia and will be retested on arrival, after which they will be isolated until they get another negative result.
The situation is more problematic for Denis Shapovalov: While Nadal is running out of isolation, the Canadian only tested positive on his arrival in Sydney on Sunday evening and went into isolation. The 22-year-old actually belongs to the Canadian team for the ATP Cup. The team competition starts on January 1st in Sydney, Canada is also opponent of the German selection for Olympic champion Alexander Zverev in group C.
“I am very sad”
Andrei Rublev, who recently won the Davis Cup with Russia, will also be absent from Sydney. Rublev is now stuck in Barcelona, where he had prepared for the ATP Cup and tested positive after Christmas. The Russian is very contrite: “Now I have to get well and I will only travel to Melbourne if it is safe for everyone,” wrote Rublev. “I am very sad and concerned about what happened. Please take care of yourself and the people around you,” he added.
All infected players said they were vaccinated – the prerequisite for being able to compete in Australia at all. “Everyone who comes here is vaccinated,” Tiley said recently. “A small percentage – a very small one – has a medical exemption.” The reference to possible exceptions had recently fueled speculation that the vaccine-skeptical superstar Novak Djokovic could benefit from it. The Serbian world number one leaves his vaccination status open, as well as his participation in the Australian Open. “When Novak comes to the Australian Open, he will either be vaccinated or have a medical exemption,” said Tiley. The organizers of the Australian Open have not yet received a single medical exemption from unvaccinated professionals.
However, Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino said there were only a limited number of reasons for an exemption. “Everyone is looking forward to the Australian Open and everyone who will be attending – spectators, players, officials, staff – is expected to be fully vaccinated. Those are the rules. Medical exceptions are just that – it is not a loophole for the privileged Tennis player, “said Merlino, according to ABC. “It is a medical exception under exceptional circumstances when you have an acute illness.”