Scott Morrison has told Australian Open players to stop complaining about their time in coronavirus hotel quarantine.
About 1,200 players and support staff arrived in Melbourne and Adelaide over the weekend to quarantine for two weeks ahead of the tournament which starts on February 8.
They are allowed out to train for five hours a day but 72 players have been forced to stay inside after passengers on their flights tested positive for the disease.
World number one Novak Djokovic has demanded quarantine restrictions are relaxed
Stars including Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori and Angelique Kerber are among those who now have a big disadvantage compared with competitors who can train.
Swiss world No. 12 Belinda Bencic has said the rule is unfair and French player Alize Cornet called the situation ‘insane’.
Top seed Novak Djokvic released a list of demands for the quarantined players – including transferring them to private houses with tennis courts – but was roundly rejected by officials.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed in on Monday, telling the players to stop moaning.
‘It’s time for people to follow the rules, do their quarantine and play tennis,’ he told Sydney radio 2GB.
‘They’ll get paid well for it. I’m sure they’ll put on a great spectacle and the Australian Open will go ahead.’
It comes after several players breached the quarantine requirements.
One player who was supposed to be isolating was caught opening his door to boast about buying food from Uber Eats for his entire floor.
Another was caught having a conversation with his training mate in his hallway, COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar said.
She warned further misbehaviour from players could be punished with fines of up to $20,000.
Players including Russian world No. 28 Yulia Putintseva have also hit out at the harsh quarantine rules.
Former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber is one of 47 players currently undergoing hard lockdown
Cornet said that when she agreed to the tournament, players were told that they’d be separated into sections of 10 people on their flights. If one person within that section tested positive, players were informed they would need to quarantine
Novak Djokovic’s list of demands for quarantined players
- Fitness and training material in all rooms
- Decent food for elite athletes, following players taking aim at the meals on offer
- Reduce the days of isolation for players in hard isolation and carry out more tests to confirm they are negative
- Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the tests
- Grant both the player and his coach to be on the same floor of the hotel
- Move as many players as possible to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training
‘What I don’t understand is that, why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated. I would think twice before coming here,’ she wrote.
Romanian world No.71 Sorana Cirstea meanwhile said she also ‘would have stayed home’ had she known about the rule surrounding close contacts on their charter flight.
Swiss world No. 12 Belinda Bencic said imposing hard quarantine on some players while others were free to train and prepare properly was unfair.
‘We are not complaining to be in quarantine. We are complaining because of unequal practice/playing conditions before quite important tournaments,’ she said.
‘We made our decision to come here from rules that were sent to us. Then we arrived and received an information/rule book with more/new rules that we did not know about.’
French player Alize Cornet described the situation as ‘insane’ in a since deleted post.
‘Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate,’ Cornet wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
‘Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to Covid in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane.’
Cornet said that when she agreed to the tournament, players were told that they would be separated into sections of 10 people on their flights.
If one person within that section tested positive, players were informed they would need to quarantine.
French tennis player Alize Cornet has apologised for being ‘tactless’ after she called Australian Open quarantine protocols ‘insane’ on Twitter
But those rules were amended without notice to broaden it to include any passenger, she claimed.
However, New Zealand doubles player Artem Sitak said players complaining about their plight should ‘put some things into perspective’ and realise how fortunate they are when 38,000 Australians still can’t get home.
On Monday, Cornet backtracked, deleted her complaint and apologised, recognising the hardships Victorians had suffered by going through almost four months of hard lockdowns last year.
‘After my last (deleted) tweet I feel like I need to apologize to you Australian people. Your reaction to this tactless comment made me realize what you’ve been through last year and how much you suffered.
‘I guess I feel a bit anxious about all this and I better have shut my mouth.
Alize Cornet has been busy on twitter since being in lockdown ahead of the Australian Open