The Australian Open is in complete chaos after a third plane with a positive COVID-19 case on board was revealed on Sunday night.
The Qatar Airways flight QR7485 from Doha arrived in Melbourne early on Saturday morning with all on board now forced into a 14-day quarantine.
Watch the ATP 250 World Tour exclusive on Fox Sports with Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly.
French qualifier Alexandre Muller, who is ranked 208 in the world but won his way through qualifiers, posted now too familiar email to his Twitter account.
The flight is believed to have been made up of players from the men’s singles qualifying tournament in Qatar but it’s unclear how many players will be affected.
It follows two flights from Saturday — one from Los Angeles and one from Abu Dhabi — returning a positive cases after landing in Melbourne.
47 players across the two flights were placed in hard quarantine would not be able to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days and until they are medically cleared, meaning they won’t get to practice.
There have been four cases linked to the first two flights, including 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu’s coach Sylvain Bruneau.
“I am deeply sorry to share that I have just tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival here in Melbourne, after travelling from Abu Dhabi on flight EY8004,” he wrote.
“I have followed all of the safety protocols and procedures, including testing negative within 72 hours before the flight departure and felt perfectly fine when I boarded the plane.
“I also respected and followed all COVID protocols and guidelines while in the Middle East. I have no idea how I might have contracted this virus.
“I am extremely saddened and sorry for the consequences now on everyone’s shoulders sharing my flight. The rest of my team is negative and I sincerely hope that any further disruption is kept to a minimum.”
It comes as the Australian Open organisers have their hands full with the players as several have voiced their displeasure at the rules around quarantine and the inability to get as much practice as they’d like ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Commissioner for COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Emma Cassar said everyone on these flights would have to be considered close contacts.
“Over the last 48 hours, it’s been really busy,” she said.
“The rules of close contacts haven’t changed, and there’s no other way you can consider this. If you’re on a plane for 16 to 24 hours in air that circulates throughout the plane, you are a close contact.”
“The program is set up to keep people safe. We will not be modifying the program or watering it down under any circumstances.
“We’re keeping a very close eye on the research around that UK strain, and if anything, we’ll be more cautious.”
Cassar said on Sunday after that a number of people within the quarantine system have attempted to break the strict rules around their mandatory isolation.
“We take all breaches really seriously,” she said.
“For the players, that is a fine of up to $20,000, a warning from the police, but what we have also considered today is for those who are persistently breaching or not willing to remain in their rooms, our other option would be to transfer people to the complex care hotel where there is a member of Victoria Police outside the door.”
Victoria Police said it would not be commenting on individual cases but “will not hesitate to issue fines for obvious and blatant breaches of any mandatory quarantine requirements”.
It is understood the breaches have been linked to players and crew members leaving rooms to speak to one another.
More to come …