MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Players preparing for the Australian Open could be allowed to compete while in quarantine after arriving in the country, Tennis Australia (TA) boss Craig Tiley said.
International arrivals to Australia have to isolate for 14 days as part of strict COVID-19 protocols.
Tiley said in a letter to players that TA was working with local authorities to ensure they would be able to train and prepare for the Australian Open and other local events in the lead-up during their two-week isolation.
“We will continue to keep you updated on any changes, including the possibility of being able to compete during the two-week period,” Tiley wrote.
Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria state, which hosts the year’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne from Jan. 18-31, has been in hard lockdown since early August due to a second wave of infections.
Authorities wound back some restrictions on Monday, while the state’s daily rise in new infections fell to single digits for the first time in more than three months.
The low infection numbers will give organisers hope that fans will be permitted at Melbourne Park.
“Australia is a safe place and the community has done a good job ensuring the infection rate remains very low by wearing masks, physically distancing and practising good hygiene,” Tiley told players.
TA plans to set up “quarantine hubs” across the country for arriving players and give them more opportunities to compete before the Australian Open.
Lead-up events include the men’s team-based ATP Cup and other warm-ups in Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart.
TA is yet to confirm the summer schedule but Tiley urged players to arrive before Dec. 14 to get quarantine done before week one of competition.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Richard Pullin
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