World number two Rafael Nadal has urged his fellow competitors to take a “wider perspective” on Covid-19 safety measures put in place ahead of the Australian Open, as players and staff remained quarantined on Wednesday.
All players arriving in Australia were required to undergo two weeks’ quarantine along with their support staff. However, cases detected on three charter flights forced 72 players into an even stricter lockdown during which time they were unable to train.
So far, nine positive cases have been directly linked to the event, with 281 people considered close contacts.
Last week, some players took to social media to complain about the conditions in quarantine and the impact of not being able to train in the lead up to the event.
However, Nadal told CNN that many people had it much worse under the pandemic, and to be able to play in an international tournament should be considered a privilege, reports Xinhua news agency.
“I feel very sorry for all of them but when we came here, we knew that the measures were going to be strict because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic,” Nadal said.
“It’s a different situation than usual, it’s much more sad for everyone. But at least we’re here, we’re going to have a chance to play here. The world is suffering in general, so we can’t complain.”
Nadal was among those unaffected by the new cases, meaning he was still able to train for several hours each day while undergoing two weeks of quarantine.
Meanwhile, local player Nick Kyrgios singled out world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for not setting a good enough example in encouraging players to respect official health orders.
Djokovic had previously called to relax restrictions on the 72 players in lockdown in order to allow them to train. Following a backlash to his request, the reigning Open champion clarified he simply intended to support disadvantaged players.
“When he was doing some of the things he was doing during the global pandemic, it just wasn’t the right time,” Kyrgios told CNN.
“I think it’s very important (to hold players accountable) especially when it’s one of our leaders of our sport,” he added.