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Australian Open tennis players begin to exit hotel quarantine

SYDNEY -Australian Open tennis players have begun to leave hotel quarantine after completing their 14-day isolation, about a week before the event starts.

By tomorrow, about 500 players will have been released from hotels in Melbourne and Adelaide, organisers said.

High-profile stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were among those allowed out on Friday.

Players have quarantined because of the Australian government’s Covid-19 rules for anyone entering the country.

In early January, more than 1,700 players, staff and others tied to the Grand Slam were flown into Australia on chartered flights. The tournament begins on 8 February.

Unlike other returning travellers who stay full-time in hotel rooms, players were allowed out of their rooms for five hours a day to practice on court and exercise.

A smaller group of 72 players were fully confined to their rooms in Melbourne, however, after coronavirus cases were discovered on their flights.

Eight cases have been linked to the event so far, including Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa.

The quarantine policy had prompted criticism from several players who were concerned about how it would impact their preparation.

US tennis player Tennys Sandgren and Georgian player Oksana Kalashnikova continued this criticism on Thursday, after saying they had learned their confinement would be extended by another day.

“It’s also another day we can’t practice,” Sandgren wrote on social media.

He said he would have only three days of practice outside the room before playing a competitive match.

Melbourne endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns last year and many locals have concerns about the potential Covid risk posed by the tournament. Some players have acknowledged what Melburnians went through last year, and expressed thanks to Australian authorities for facilitating the event.

SourceBBC NEWS
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