CANBERRA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Prime Minister has told tennis players in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open to “follow the rules.”
The Department of Health and Human Services in the state of Victoria, where the Australian Open will be held from February 8 to 21, on Tuesday morning reported four new cases in hotel quarantine.
Tennis stars including world number one and eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic have reportedly expressed their dissatisfaction towards strict quarantine arrangements ahead of the Grand Slam event.
Responding to the topic for the first time on Monday afternoon, PM Scott Morrison told Nine Entertainment radio that players would be well paid for competing in the tournament.
“I think it’s just time people follow the rules, do their quarantine, play tennis. They’ll get paid well for it and I’m sure they’ll put on a great spectacle and the Australian Open will go ahead,” he said.
“This is one of those things. You’re trying to keep the balance of keeping things going forward as normal as you can, but it obviously has to happen under some rather extraordinary rules and arrangements.”
He refused to criticize the Victorian Government for its handling of the event and rejected commentary that tennis players were taking the place of Australians stranded overseas in hotel quarantine.
“No one is being prevented from coming home from overseas because of the Australian Open, that’s not happening,” Morrison said.
More than 70 players have been confined to hard lockdown in their hotel rooms in the lead-up to the tournament after passengers on their flights to Australia tested positive for COVID-19.
Djokovic has reportedly issued a list of demands for players in quarantine including allowing players and coaches to visit each other and moving “as many players as possible” to private houses with tennis courts.
The demands have been rejected.
As of Monday afternoon, there had been 28,721 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and 13 respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Monday evening from the Department of Health.