Organisers of the Australian Open are planning on biosecure bubbles for players and their teams, rather than a repeat of compulsory hotel quarantine.
Novak Djokovic was among the competitors who complained about the conditions for the 2021 tournament, though that was met by a backlash from the Australian public.
The country has some of the world’s strictest coronavirus rules, but it is currently dealing with a wave of new infections caused by the Delta variant. The state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is under lockdown and there has been criticism of the slow vaccine rollout Down Under.
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The Australian government plans to start reopening the country when 70% of the public are fully jabbed, but only a third of that number currently are.
"There's a lot of time between now and when we get going, but at this point in time we're planning on having a two-week bubble, where the players will be able to move freely between the hotel and the courts," tournament boss Craig Tiley told the Nine Network.
They're protected, they're kept safe among themselves and safe from the community as well. And after those two weeks, they'll come out and be able to compete in the Australian Open in front of crowds.
"We're working with the government and health authorities now on the amount of crowds and what the Australian Open will specifically look like."
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A change in approach would likely avoid a repeat of the situation in 2021, where around 70 players were forced into a ‘hard quarantine’ when they were identified as close contacts of positive cases. Those individuals were not able to leave their rooms to train, with many sharing innovative ways to stay in shape on social media.
The tournament was delayed until February, but organisers are hoping to start the 2022 edition as scheduled on January 17.
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