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Australian Open 2021 organisers got a rude shock on Saturday as three people tested positive for coronavirus on two charter flights which were ferrying the players and coaches from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi to Melbourne for the season-opening Grand Slam tournament.


15 charter flights have been organised to bring 1200 players, coaches and officials to Melbourne for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park starting February 8.


A member of the flight's crew coming in from Los Angeles and an employee working for the Australian Open tested positive for COVID-19. The 24 players who were onboard the aircraft have been put into self-isolation in their hotel rooms in Melbourne, as a result.


Another flight from Abu Dhabi saw a non-player passenger test positive for the virus, prompting the organisers to usher 23 players into hotel quarantine.


The isolated players will not be able to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days until they are medically cleared. Other players will also have to quarantine for 14 days but will be allowed to train under strict conditions and with supervision for up to 5 hours a day.


“An aircrew member and Australian Open participant who is not a player have been transferred to a health hotel following positive test results for coronavirus (COVID-19).


“All remaining 66 passengers on the flight have been determined to be close contacts. Any players and support people will not be able to leave quarantine to attend training. The remaining flight crew all tested negative and were permitted to fly out without passengers directly to their home port,” Victoria state's health department said in a statement.


Kei Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up who tested negative for COVID-19 after having two positive tests, and 2-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka were reported by local media to be among a group of players who arrived on the flight from LAX.


“We are communicating with everyone on this flight, and particularly the playing group whose conditions have now changed, to ensure their needs are being catered to as much as possible, and that they are fully appraised of the situation. Our thoughts are with the two people who tested positive on the flight and we wish them well for their recovery," Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.

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