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Australian Open: Tennis stars REVOLT against Naomi Osaka’s Adelaide quarantine

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A ‘revolt’ has broken out among tennis stars after Naomi Osaka was pictured training in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open, while other competitors remain locked in their Melbourne hotel rooms. 

There are 72 tennis players in hard quarantine in Victoria ahead of the tournament scheduled to start on February 8 after six people on three of 17 charter flights tested positive to coronavirus

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday a further three people linked to the Australian Open have tested positive to Covid-19 – taking the total of cases linked to the Australian Open to nine.

The impacted players are not allowed to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days but other quarantining arrivals from the remaining charter flights have been granted an exemption to train for five hours a day. 

But over in Adelaide, high-profile players quarantining in the city are being afforded a wealth of privileges, including gym use separate to their court time. 

Some competitors have taken to social media to complain about being unable to train, while world No.1 Novak Djokovic – who is in Adelaide – wrote to the tournament boss with a number of demands.

But the frustrations seemingly boiled over when Osaka, the 2019 Australian Open champion, shared footage with four members of her training staff on the court in Adelaide.  

A ‘revolt’ has broken out among tennis stars after Naomi Osaka was pictured training ahead of the Australian Open with four members of her training staff (pictured)

Naomi Osaka arrives at Adelaide Airport on January 14 ahead of the Australian Open. She is in Adelaide unlike most other competitors in Melbourne

Naomi Osaka arrives at Adelaide Airport on January 14 ahead of the Australian Open. She is in Adelaide unlike most other competitors in Melbourne

Italian journalist Luca Fiorino shared an image from the session on Twitter and said a ‘revolt broke out’. 

‘The players are not very happy for the unequal treatment in relation to big players in Adelaide,’ he said.

‘This photo of Naomi Osaka has driven them mad.’ 

Former top-25 tennis player Jeremy Chardy has slammed Tennis Australia for giving preferential treatment to some of the game’s biggest names by hosting a pre-Australian Open tournament with relaxed Covid-19 bubble conditions in Adelaide.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will compete in the men’s tournament alongside US Open champion Dominic Thiem, while 23-time major winner Serena Williams will play in the women’s event along with Osaka and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.

‘This announcement for the top threes is a bit out of the blue and it’s weird, to put it mildly,’ Chardy told L’Equipe.

Italian journalist Luca Fiorino said the photo of Osaka (pictured posing in her hotel quarantine) training has 'driven them [other tennis players] mad'

Italian journalist Luca Fiorino said the photo of Osaka (pictured posing in her hotel quarantine) training has ‘driven them [other tennis players] mad’

‘They will even be able to benefit from a gym at the hotel and will be able to do their [gym] exercises which will not count towards the five-hour quota. Everyone can go out. They will almost be able to live normally.

‘Already they have a lot of privileges.’

Sports Illustrated editor Jon Wertheim has said competitors in Adelaide had been advised to steer clear of social media.

‘The Adelaide dimension was unnecessary and has already led the charges of unfairness,’ he wrote on Twitter. 

‘I’m told that, over the weekend, the fortunate players in Adelaide have been ‘encouraged’ to stop with social media posts, which have inflamed tensions.’

Tennis players are seen arriving at Melbourne Park on Monday. They are allowed to travel for five hours a day but competitors who were on charter flights with positive coronavirus cases must stay locked in their hotel rooms for 14 days

Tennis players are seen arriving at Melbourne Park on Monday. They are allowed to travel for five hours a day but competitors who were on charter flights with positive coronavirus cases must stay locked in their hotel rooms for 14 days 

Rafael Nadal arrives at Adelaide Airport ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament on January 14

Rafael Nadal arrives at Adelaide Airport ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament on January 14

Austrian tennis player Philipp Oswald, who is in two-week quarantine in Melbourne, told Tennisnet he didn’t think it was fair a few players are allowed to train in Adelaide, while others are ‘barracked’ in Melbourne.  

‘Conditions are much better in Adelaide. First, players were allowed to take a lot more staff with them,’ he said. 

‘They also have a gym in their hotel. So they don’t have to do their fitness exercises during the five-hour period. You only have the five hours to play tennis. 

‘There was a huge discussion and the other players were also upset… It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears – and I caught the sour lemon.’

Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. arrive before heading straight to quarantine for two weeks isolation ahead of her Australian Open warm up matches in Adelaide

Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. arrive before heading straight to quarantine for two weeks isolation ahead of her Australian Open warm up matches in Adelaide

No.1 Novak Djokovic (pictured on his hotel balcony in Adelaide) wrote to the tournament boss with a number of demands

No.1 Novak Djokovic (pictured on his hotel balcony in Adelaide) wrote to the tournament boss with a number of demands

Stars including Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori and Angelique Kerber are among those plunged into hard lockdown who now have a big disadvantage compared with competitors who can train.

Swiss world No. 12 Belinda Bencic has said the rule is unfair and French player Alize Cornet called the situation ‘insane’. 

Bencic said imposing quarantine on some players while others were free to train and prepare properly was unfair.

‘We are not complaining to be in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments,’ she said.

‘We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about.’

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Cornet described the situation as ‘insane’ in a since deleted post.

‘Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate,’ Cornet wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

‘Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to Covid in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane.’

Osaka is seen in a face mask and holding a video camera as she waves on Monday

Osaka is seen in a face mask and holding a video camera as she waves on Monday

Novak Djokovic list of demands for quarantined players

  • Fitness and training material in all rooms
  • Decent food for elite athletes, following players taking aim at the meals on offer
  • Reduce the days of isolation for players in hard isolation and carry out more tests to confirm they are negative
  • Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the tests
  • Grant both the player and his coach to be on the same floor of the hotel
  • Move as many players as possible to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training

Tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios has labelled Djokovic a ‘tool’ after the world No. 1 faced widespread criticism for issuing a list of six demands to tournament organisers.

‘Djokovic is a tool,’ Kyrgios wrote on Twitter late on Monday evening in response to news of player complaints about conditions in quarantine.

Kyrgios, 25, then turned his sights on Bernard Tomic’s reality TV star girlfriend Vanessa Sierra, who among other gripes moaned about not having access to a professional hairdresser while cooped up in isolation. 

‘I don’t mind Bernie but his Mrs obviously has no perspective, ridiculous scenes,’ he added in his tweet in reference to Tomic and Sierra.

Sierra posted a video to YouTube complaining how nobody cleaned their room, they didn’t get fresh sheets, and were forced to wash their dinner plates in the bathroom sink.

As Tomic is a vegan, Sierra said the hotel food did not sufficiently cater to his dietary requirement so the couple spent $200-a-day on Uber Eats.

She also expressed concerns about sharing such a small space with her tennis star boyfriend.

‘There is only one bathroom. I have never pooped in front of Bernard. I don’t know what I am going to do. I haven’t broken that barrier in the relationship yet, and I hope I don’t have to,’ she said.

Kyrgios has become a strong critic of Djokovic during the pandemic and in June described him as ‘boneheaded’ after the Serbian tested positive for Covid-19 following his self-organised ‘Adria Tour’ tournament.

By contrast, the Australian has repeatedly boycotted the professional tennis circuit during the pandemic – staying in Australia and refusing to compete over the past 11 months.

Kyrgios, 25, also turned his sights on Tomic's reality TV star partner Vanessa Sierra over her quarantine complaints

Kyrgios, 25, also turned his sights on Tomic’s reality TV star partner Vanessa Sierra over her quarantine complaints

Djokovic suggested players could be quarantined in private houses in Melbourne with tennis courts and gym facilities.

Mr Andrews responded on Monday by ruling out any easing of the hard quarantine arrangements.

‘People are free to provide a list of demands. But the answer is no,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules. Well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came.

Mr Andrews said the rules in place for the tennis players were based on public health advice. 

The number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Australian Open rose to nine on Tuesday as organisers rejected calls to shorten the length of matches at the grand slam.

Mr Andrews said three of four new Covid-19 cases in hotel quarantine announced on Tuesday are connected to the Open. 

Serbian tennis player Aleksandra Krunic (front) and Russian tennis player Evgeny Donskoy (behind) leave a tennis hotel for a training session in Melbourne on Monday

Serbian tennis player Aleksandra Krunic (front) and Russian tennis player Evgeny Donskoy (behind) leave a tennis hotel for a training session in Melbourne on Monday

Mr Andrews says some of the nine tennis cases may be reclassified as non-infectious shedding, which could allow players to leave their lockdown hotel rooms to train.

‘If you’ve got say 30 people who are deemed a close contact because they’ve been on a plane with a case, and the case is no longer an active case but a historic shedding, well that would release those people from that hard lockdown,’ he said on Tuesday.

But Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned the virus could still be incubating in some of the 1200 people who have arrived in Melbourne for the Open.

Cases have been linked to three charter flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.

The fresh cases come as Open boss Craig Tiley said organisers always expected some positive COVID-19 tests among arrivals.

Police are seen patrolling at the M Suites accomodation in North Adelaide on Tuesday

Police are seen patrolling at the M Suites accomodation in North Adelaide on Tuesday

‘There was going to be an expectation to have several positive cases,’ Mr Tiley told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

Mr Tiley said the lockdown for some players meant preparations for the grand slam starting on February 8 was ‘not an even playing field’. 

‘We’re going to play our part to try to even it up as much as possible,’ he said.

But he rejected calls from some men’s players to reduce Open matches to best of three sets instead of best of five.

‘We’re a grand slam at the end of the day,’ he said.

‘Right now, three out of five sets for the men and two out of three sets for the women is the position we plan on sticking to.’

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