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THE number of players under hard quarantine swelled to 72 ahead of the Australian Open after a fifth positive coronavirus test was returned from the charter flights, bringing players, coaches, officials and media to Melbourne for the season-opening tennis major.
That means they won’t be allowed to leave their hotel rooms or practice for 14 days, creating a two-speed preparation period for the tournament. Other players under less rigorous quarantine will be allowed to practice for five hours daily.
Australian Open organizers confirmed late Sunday that the latest case involved a passenger on the flight from Doha, Qatar to Melbourne that was not a member of the playing contingent. But all 58 passengers, including the 25 players, now cannot leave their hotel rooms for 14 days.
There were already 47 players, including Grand Slam winners, under hard quarantine after three positive tests were returned from a charter flight that arrived from Los Angeles and one from a flight that departed Abu Dhabi.
Some players have expressed anger at being classified as close contacts merely for being on board those flights with people, who later tested positive. That classification has forced them into a harsher isolation than the broader group of players.
But local government, tennis and health authorities have said all players were warned of the risks in advance.
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