US tennis player Tennys Sandgren has arrived in Melbourne after Tennis Australia reportedly intervened giving special clearance for him to board a charter flight despite testing positive for coronavirus back in November and on Monday.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Australian time, Sandgren initially suggested he would not be able to board the flight for the Australian Open, saying “Covid positive over thanksgiving” and “Covid positive on Monday”.
Later, the quarter-finalist at last year’s open added it appeared he would be able to board the chartered flight before lauding the Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley, as a “wizard”.
“Wow I’m on the plane. Maybe I just held my breath too long,” he said in a tweet.
He then explained his first positive test was in November and he was now “totally recovered”. “I was sick in November, totally healthy now. There’s not a single documented case where I would be contagious at this point.”
The Australian newspaper published an online story headlined “US tennis ace sparks Aus Open virus worry.”
Tennis Australia moved to clarify the situation in a statement Thursday that outlined players who’ve previously tested positive to COVID-19 were “required to provide additional and highly detailed medical information as proof they are a recovered case and no longer infectious or a risk to the community.”
Tennis Australia added: “In the case of Tennys Sandgren, who has self-disclosed that he previously tested positive in late November, his medical file had to be reviewed by Victorian (state government) health authorities. Upon completion of that review he was cleared to fly.”
The Australian Open has already been rescheduled three weeks later because of restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now set to open on Feb. 8.
On Wednesday, nearly 12,000 kilometers from Melbourne, the qualifying tournament was completed for the tournament, with 16 men and 16 women set to join the singles main draw.
Due to the Australian restrictions, the men’s and women’s qualifying tournaments – in Doha, Qatar and in Dubai – were held outside of Australia for the first time.
Read also our latest other sports news: Thailand Open “safe to continue” despite reports of positive cases
The women qualifiers include two-time Australian Open and Roland Garros doubles champion Timea Babos of Hungary and British player Francesca Jones, who has a rare genetic condition.
Jones has ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia, which means she was born with three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on her right foot and four toes on her left.
While on the men’s side, the qualifiers include 17-year-old ATP newcomer of the year from Spain, Carlos Alcaraz.
Six women and six men will also travel to Australia as lucky losers and undergo mandatory quarantine like the rest of the international players, hoping to get a place in the main draw as cover for injuries or withdrawals. There are 104 direct entries based on rankings for the men’s and women’s singles main draw, plus wild-card entries and the qualifiers.
The 15 flights will be at no more than one-fourth of the total capacity, and will arrive over a 36-hour period ending early Saturday.
Once a negative result has been returned, players can start to train within a strictly supervised environment for five hours per day, and players and their teams will be tested every day during quarantine.
The Australian Open draw will be held on Feb. 4, four days ahead of the start of the main tournament, which ends Feb. 21 with the men’s singles final.
Novak Djokovic is the defending men’s champion and Sofia Kenin is the women’s defending champion.
Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will be among a group of players involved in an exhibition event in Adelaide, South Australia state, on Jan. 29.
All other tournaments will be in Melbourne, including the 12-team ATP Cup starting Feb. 1 and two WTA events in the week leading into the Australian Open. 12BETInfo was the biggest Sports News information and official partner of 12BET.