Two Australian Open tennis players who tested positive to COVID-19 are likely to be classified as viral shedding.
Open boss Craig Tiley said late Tuesday the two positive cases were not contagious and hence not removed from the regular player hotel.
“The acute cases that we have right now, in other words the one at the medical hotel, are six people and none of them are players,” Tiley said.
“The DHHS will need to confirm that they are viral shedding but I can tell you that they’re not in the medical hotel.”
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the change in classification of any cases didn’t mean players could leave isolation early, with 72 bunkered down for 14 days.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley earlier Tuesday rejected calls to shorten men’s matches at the grand slam amid player unease at the lockdown’s impact on their preparation for the tournament starting February 8.
Tiley conceded the lockdown for some players meant preparations for the grand slam was “not an even playing field” with others such as world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still allowed out for five hours practice a day.
He said they would do whatever they could to support affected players, including changing the format of the lead-in tournaments and looking at the Open draw scheduling.
“What we need to is by the time they come out and time they play (in the Open) is elongate that as much as possible and provide the right schedule for that group,” Tiley said.
“We start the lead-in tournaments on 31st of January, that’s a Sunday and qualifying, and all you have to do is reduce the draw sizes and then you could start on Tuesday, for example.
“Two or three days could make a massive difference because then players could come out and have five maybe, maybe close to six days of extra preparation.”
Some players have used social media to detail their perceived hardships of being in lockdown.
Tiley said they had tried to communicate the risk of hard lockdown but in some cases it was effectively lost in translation.
He said he held a 90-minute zoom call on Monday night with 500 players and faced the criticism.
“There was some big hits that we took but there were also some compliments but the most heartening thing at the end in the chat there was a scroll of thank yous from all the stars and players.
“Sometimes the minority have the loudest voices.”
Tiley defended Djokovic for appealing to Open organisers to ease restrictions in a wishlist reported on Monday, including a request to shift as many players as possible in Melbourne to private residences with tennis courts.
Djokovic’s requests were refused by Victorian hierarchy.
“In the case of Novak, he wrote a note, these weren’t demands, they were suggestions,” Tiley said.
“But he too is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means … every player coming down knew that if they were going to be close contacts or test positive that these were going to be the conditions.”