United Kingdom

Leaked emails reveal the havoc UK Covid super-strain is playing on Australian Open preparations

Leaked emails have revealed the havoc three cases of the highly-infectious UK strain of coronavirus is having on Australian Open preparations.

Players who can leave their rooms during mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine are allowed another person to train with during the five hours a day they can be outside. 

They were expected to be able to add an extra two people to bring their cohort to four, expanding their training partners and allowing for doubles practice.  

Australian Open players who are allowed out of their hotel quarantine rooms for up to five hours a day will stick to having one other person in their cohort with changes allowing an increase postponed. Pictured, Venus Williams

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley (pictured) reportedly emailed players to inform them changes to their quarantine cohorts were being postponed 

But following confirmation three people linked to the tournament have tested positive to the UK mutant strain, those plans have been put on hold, according to News Corp reports. 

The three cases - two men in their 30s and one his 50s - are not players.

'The residents arrived in Melbourne on a dedicated Australian Open charter flight on January 15 and returned their first positive tests on January 15, 17 and 18,' Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria said. 

Tournament director Craig Tiley emailed players to advise them that after consulting with many of them the 'planned expansion of the cohorts' was being postponed. 

Players were said to not be in favour of expanding their cohort.  

Mr Tiley said having more people allowed in a player's cohort was not a risk to the local community as they all were in quarantine. 

'But we want to minimise the risk to each of you and that's why we have delayed the expansion and will continue to assess daily,' Mr Tiley wrote in the email. 

 The easing of restrictions would not have applied to the 72 players who cannot leave their hotel rooms for the 14-day quarantine period as they arrived on flights which also carried passengers who later tested positive for coronavirus on arrival.

Outspoken quarantine critic Paula Bardosa (pictured) is the only Australian Open player to have tested positive for coronavirus. The other cases linked to the tournament are not players

The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation issued an apology to Tennis Australia after previously requesting their players be released early from mandatory 14-day quarantine. Pictured, Spain's Rafael Nadal 

Only one player, Spain's Paula Badosa, has tested positive. 

The 23-year-old previously complained about the tough restrictions on players. 

The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation later issued an apology to Tennis Australia after previously releasing a statement requesting their players be released from quarantine early. 

Nine active cases are linked to the Australian Open and 970 people associated with the tournament are in quarantine. 

A staff member wearing PPE is pictured working to clean surfaces at Melbourne Park on Thursday. Three travellers linked to the Australian Open have arrived in Melbourne carrying the highly contagious UK strain of Covid-19

Victorian authorities on Saturday reported one new case linked to the tennis tournament, a man in his 20s who is not a player.

One case was reclassified on Sunday.   

Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria said all three people confirmed to have the UK variant had been in hard lockdown since they landed in Melbourne.

The Australian Open is due to begin on February 8. 

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