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Quarantined tennis players try to train in Australia

With no way out, quarantined tennis players in Melbourne looked for ways to keep fit inside their hotel rooms as they prepared for the Australian Open.

Angelique Kerber, who won the Australian Open in 2016, spent her birthday in quarantine on Monday. Other years ago, the German had spent the day playing or preparing for matches in the final rounds of the tournament.

This time, since the Grand Slam that opens the season does not begin until February 8 due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to settle for a message shared on social media by the organizers of the Open. from Australia to celebrate the occasion.

Diego Schwartzman, a semifinalist at the last French Open, sought to break out of the monotony through a live broadcast on Instagram that lasted almost 24 minutes.

“We’re going crazy here,” said Schwartzman, with a hint of good humor as he followed incidents of the soccer championship in his native Argentina.

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Accompanied by his girlfriend Eugenia De Martino in his hotel room, Schwartzman showed his thermos to drink yerba de mate and a bicycle to exercise.

Kerber and Schwartzman are among 72 players serving a strict 14-day lockdown after five coronavirus positives were detected in passengers on leased flights that brought nearly 1,200 tennis players, coaches, officials and journalists to Melbourne for a tournament that He had a reputation for being happy, so much so that on the circuit it is known as the “Happy Slam”.

That means affected players will not be able to leave their hotel rooms to train for 14 days, creating a two-speed tournament preparation period. Those who adhere to a less rigorous quarantine regime will be able to train five hours a day.

These outdoor sessions began on Monday in Melbourne. Players from a smaller group of players that landed in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, and which includes Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, can also train according to safety protocol.

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Tennis players like Yulia Putintseva and Belinda Bencic initially complained on social media about being misinformed about quarantine rules, but have found ways to train indoors, such as throwing balls against walls and windows or with other curious methods of training. work out.

Some tennis players have expressed anger at falling under the category of close contact just because they were on board the flight with people who tested positive. But the health authorities, the local government and tennis said that all the players knew in advance about the risks.

“There has been a bit of noise from a group of players about the rules. Well, the rules apply to them like everyone else, and they were all informed before they came and that was the condition they traveled with, ”Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said on Monday. “There is no special treatment … as the virus does not treat anyone in a special way, so we are not going to do it either.”

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In response to unconfirmed reports that eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic came up with a series of ideas to modify conditions for 40 of the players, Andrews came up with: “People are free to submit demand lists, but the answer is no ”.

Australia’s international borders are practically closed, although exceptions are made in special circumstances. All newcomers are required to do a mandatory quarantine. Each state in Australia has its own border and travel restrictions, which can change quickly.

The state of Victoria, which has Melbourne as its capital, registered 810 of the 909 deaths from COVID-19 in Australia, most during a second wave of infections three months ago that involved curfews and quarantines for the city. AP (HN)

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