Thursday’s matches at Australian Open warm-up events in Melbourne Park have been cancelled after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive to COVID-19.
Up to 600 players and support staff connected to the season’s first grand slam will have to isolate until they have been tested.
Tennis officials late on Wednesday night issued a statement about lead-up events for the Australian Open, amid fear of further spread of the virus.
“We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible,” Tennis Australia, organisers of the February 8-21 event, said.
“There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today.”
“There’s a number of — about 500 or 600 people — that are either players and officials and others who are casual contacts,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday.
“They will be isolating until they get a negative test. And that work will be done tomorrow (Thursday).
It was not immediately clear which players could have been casual contacts of the worker.
Mr Andrews rejected suggestions it was the worst-case scenario and said the first grand slam of the year would be going ahead.
“I wouldn’t describe it in those terms,” he said.
“We’ve got one case. We’re going to work very hard to keep numbers as low as we possibly can. Decisions have been made, and we’ll proceed as we can.”
The lead-up to the Australian Open had been thrown into chaos when four positive coronavirus cases were detected from charter flights carrying tennis players, coaches and officials to Melbourne almost three weeks ago.
Some 47 players were forced to quarantine for two weeks with things going relatively smoothly until this latest positive test.
While there’d been complaints from some players about the conditions and enforced quarantine, Australian star Nick Kyrgios was having none of it at the time.
On Wednesday night the Australian star wondered what would happen to his third round match at the Murray River Open against Croatia’s Borna Coric.
Kyrgios, who has been off the tour since the pandemic began and a vocal critic of players, including world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who ran a tournament in 2020 where there was an outbreak of coronavirus, said there’d be no complaints from him if he was forced into a two-week lockdown somewhere else this year.
“It’s not about me. My mum is incredibly sick,” Kyrgios said.
“There’s too much risk in all of this. I don’t understand what’s so hard for tennis players to understand. Like, you’re just a tennis player. Do you know what I mean? It’s not life and death like this is.”