Sport Australian Open to go ahead without crowds despite strict lockdown
Family of guard who sparked Perth lockdown blast quarantine system
The infected guard - an international student in his 20s who is originally from Bangladesh - worked at the Four Points by Sheraton while there were four Covid-positive patients inside. Two of those quarantined were carrying the highly-infectious UK variant while another had the South African strain.The guard and part-time ride-share driver was preparing to graduate from an engineering course at Edith Cowan University when he caught the virus by delivering medication to the door of one of the infected travellers on January 24.
Leading players say they are grateful just to be able to continue the Australian Open after crowds were shut out and 'bubble' conditions introduced when Victoria was plunged into a snap five-day lockdown.
'We're guests here, so whatever works for the safety of everyone,' said world No.3 Naomi Osaka, the 2019 champion, after easing into the fourth round on Friday.
Osaka won the US Open last September in New York at an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium and said while she has loved being back in front of fans for the first time in almost a year, she supported the Victorian government's response to Melbourne's growing outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
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Paranoid Western Australia premier Mark McGowan has confirmed the crippling lockdown won't be lifted until 6pm on Friday.The announcement comes despite no new coronavirus cases locally across the past four days.
'I know there were quite a few people that weren't really happy with us being here in the first place, so I think we're all just really happy to be playing anyway.
'For me, I've played New York without fans, and it went really well for me.
'I'm sad, but I know what the priority is.'
Other players including seven-time champion Serena Williams echoed her sentiments.'
'It's rough - it's going to be a rough few days for I think everyone, but we'll hopefully get through it,' said Williams after also reaching the fourth round.
'But, you know what, at the end of the day we have to do what's best and hopefully it will be all right.'
Australian Open will go ahead as tennis players test negative to Covid
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley told radio station 3AW on Friday that results are back for almost all of 507 Australian Open players and officials tested for coronavirus in Melbourne.Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley announced on Friday morning that the results are back for almost all of the 507 players and officials tested for coronavirus on Thursday.
Men's 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov said players had a lot to be grateful for.
'We're still very fortunate to be able to play a grand slam tournament in the middle of a pandemic and very, very thankful to the Australian Open, to all the parties that made that thing happen,' the Bulgarian said.
Tournament boss Craig Tiley said cancelling the rest of the Open was never an option and the absence of crowds and a player bubble was one of the contingency plans that had been prepared.
The Open is close to the halfway point and is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, February 21 with the finals of the mixed doubles and men's singles.
Tiley hoped that crowds would be able to return on Thursday ahead of the women's semi-finals and the first of the men's semis.
Relief for Perth businesses announced after lockdown
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has announced a financial relief measure as businesses struggle to emerge from the state's brief COVID-19 lockdown.The locked-down areas of WA are set to emerge from lockdown at 6pm local time, after a quarantine hotel worker was diagnosed with the virus last weekend.
'Play will continue and players will compete in a bubble form not dissimilar to what they've been doing right throughout the year,' Tiley said.
'Those who will be allowed on site will be players and their direct support teams as well as those staff members who are unable to do their work from home.'
Tiley expected players to spend the bulk of their time on site, either playing or training, and they would otherwise remain under the same conditions as the general public.
Victorian premier Dan Andrews said tennis players were not considered 'essential workers' but the nature of their profession meant they could not work from home.
'If you can work from home, you must,' Andrews said.
'That's (Melbourne Park) their workplace.'
Andrews said the current infection - of the highly-contagious UK variant of the virus - was not linked to the tennis and there was no advice to call it off.
'I don't have advice to cancel the event on the basis that it is unsafe, I just don't have that,' he said.
'This case has got nothing to do with that event. This case is a different matter.'
The event has already suffered a significant financial hit with crowd limits reduced to 50 per cent capacity and Tiley conceded it would do more damage to their bottom line.
Just 76,213 fans attended in the first four days compared to a record 299,156 at the same point in 2020.
Fans who have tickets for the next five days are able to get a refund.
Victoria's snap lockdown is over but it comes at a political cost for Daniel Andrews .
Victoria's snap coronavirus lockdown could present a new challenge for Daniel Andrews if he has to take tough action in the future, with the Premier's social and political capital taking a hit over the past week, writes Richard Willingham.There has been untold economic damage and fresh concerns for the mental health of Victorians already doing it tough.