Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has firmly ruled out making exceptions to quarantine rules for Australian Open players, following a list of proposals from Novak Djokovic.
With 72 players in a two-week hotel quarantine after positive tests on flights to Melbourne, it was reported that world No 1 Djokovic asked for better food, more fitness equipment in rooms and potentially shortening the isolation time, among other things.
However, Andrews says will be no “special treatment” for the world’s top tennis players.
“People are free to provide lists of demands. But the answer is no,” he said.
“I know there has been a bit of chatter about the rules. The rules apply to them the same as they apply to everybody else. They were briefed on that before they came and that was the condition on which they came. There’s no special treatment. The virus doesn’t treat you specially, so neither do we.”
“The notion that people weren’t briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever and don’t just take my word for it. You’ve got other players, who I think on social media and in other forums have made it clear that they were clear on the rules.”
Djokovic’s reported requests have not gone down well in Australia, where Covid-19 cases are low but thousands of citizens are not able to travel between states or see family members due to the pandemic.
Victoria chief health officer Brett Sutton said: “Victorians have gone through a long lockdown, tens of thousands of Victorians have had their own quarantines by virtue of being close contacts and everyone finds quarantine tough.
“Victorians have copped this as much as anyone in the world and it’s for them to reflect really on some of the privileged positions others might have in respect of how their quarantine plays out. Victorians have had it tough and they don’t expect special rules for anybody else.”
There have been calls for the Australian Open to be called off after the latest developments.
“It’s time to be selfish, time for Victoria to put ourselves first,” said 3AW radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell. “Call off the Australian Open. It’s not worth the risk.”
However, tournament director Craig Tiley says the Grand Slam will go ahead.
“We are planning on February 8,” he told 9 News in Melbourne. “We do have that buffer time in there and we are looking forward to welcoming fans to the Australian Open.
“We knew always there was going to be significant risks. With this pandemic, you can never tell.”