Victoria’s premier has bluntly rejected tennis star Novak Djokovic’s reported demands to ease lockdown restrictions as the number of Australian Open competitors in quarantine reached 72.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday another four positive COVID-19 cases in Melbourne linked to charter flights of tennis players and their entourages.
That brings the total to nine confirmed cases, including one unnamed player, who have arrived in Melbourne before the Open is due to start on February 8.
There are 72 competitors now in 14 days isolation.
World No.1 Djokovic reportedly sent Australian Open boss Craig Tiley a letter with six demands he wanted actioned for the players in lockdown in Melbourne.
According to Spanish tennis website Punto de Break, Djokovic demanded the length of isolation be reduced, for players to see their coach or trainer, and as many players as possible moved to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training.
Djokovic, who resigned as president of the ATP Player Council to set up the Professional Tennis Players Association, also wanted better food and more fitness equipment delivered to the rooms of players.
But Andrews shut down any notion of reducing the duration of quarantine.
“People are free to provide lists of demands but the answer is no,” Andrews said.
“I know that there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules – well, the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else, and they were all briefed on that before they came and that was a condition on which they came.
“There’s no special treatment here.”
Djokovic and some the game’s biggest stars including Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are preparing for the Open in Adelaide, where they will play an exhibition on January 29.
SA Premier Steven Marshall said there was no reason to change the quarantine plans for the tennis players in Adelaide.
“We’ve had very good feedback from the group we have in SA (but) the number is very small compared to the numbers in Victoria,” Marshall said.
And Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the tennis players had not taken the place of Australians overseas who were seeking to return home.
“No-one is being prevented from coming home from overseas because of the Australian Open,” Morrison told radio station 2GB.
The prime minister was questioned why Melbourne’s Formula One grand prix had been postponed until November while the tennis was delayed by three weeks.
“The sort of arrangements that were being asked by the grand prix were unacceptable so it was put back,” he said.
“The (tennis) arrangements that the Victoran government were prepared to accept were agreed and they were laid out.
“It is time the people follow the rules, do their quarantine, play tennis. They will get paid well for it.”
The Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine in Victoria Emma Cassar said police presence had been increased at the Open hotels amid cases of “challenging behaviour” from some confined players and support staff.
She cited two cases when hotel room doors were opened to have a conversation or shout down the hallway.
“There is zero tolerance for breaches,” she said.
“It’s low level but dangerous acts that we just can’t tolerate.”
Cassar warned the players and support staff could be fined up to $20,000 or repeat offenders transferred to the complex care hotel where they have a police officer stationed outside their door.