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"No special treatment" for 72 Australian Open players in quarantine, local leader says

Dozens of tennis players in lockdown
Dozens of tennis players in lockdown ahead of Australian Open 01:23

A local official is criticizing tennis players for complaining about conditions after dozens were being forced to hard quarantine after arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open. 

While no player has tested positive for the virus, Daniel Andrews, who is the premier of Victoria, the home of the tournament, said in a news conference Monday that they're not getting any preferential treatment. 

"I know that there's been a bit of chatter from a number of players about the rules," Andrews said. "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 the condition on which they came. So there's no special treatment here, people have been treated, because the virus doesn't treat you specially, so neither do we."

Organizers for the tournament said 72 players will have to face longer self-isolation periods because five people who were on separate charter flights with the athletes tested positive for coronavirus. This drew ire from some stars, including No. 12-ranked  Belina Bencic and No. 13-ranked Yulia Putinseva, who claim they weren't warned prior to traveling to the country. 

Men's singles world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia sits on his hotel balcony in Adelaide on January 18, 2021, one of the locations where players have quarantined for two weeks upon their arrival ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.  BRENTON EDWARDS / Getty Images

Andrews also responded to an unconfirmed report that Novak Djokovic, an eight-time Australian Open champ, listed demands to change the quarantine conditions for players. Djokovic reportedly wanted permission to visit a coach or physical trainer if they test negative and move players to private homes with tennis courts to train. 

"People are free to provide lists of demands but the answer is no," Andrews said. 

Australian Open organizers said 17 charters flights from seven international destinations brought up to 1,200 people to Australia for the tournament, all arriving within a 3s6-hour period up to Saturday morning. Australia has some of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in the world, limiting international travel into the country and leaving around 40,0000 Australians, officials say, stranded across the globe. 

Many voiced anger online that tennis players entered the country while many Australians remain abroad. 

"Much of the reason we have #strandedAussies is @DanielAndrewsMP gov failings," one user said. "If they could make room for tennis entourages, they could make a lot more room for residents & citizens."

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