Melbourne, Australia’s second most populous city, entered a lockdown of at least five days from midnight Saturday (13) local time (10 a.m. Friday in Brasilia). This will prevent, for example, viewers from personally attending the Australian Open until Wednesday (17).
As midnight approached, the public had to leave the Rod Laver Arena, the main site of the Grand Slam tennis complex, due to the restrictive measures.
The evacuation during the match between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz came amid boos and some resistance. The duel went to the fifth set, after the world number 1 opened 2-0 and felt pain in his hip, but managed to recover and advance to the third round.
One of the last home games on Friday night in the country was a five-set battle between home tennis player Nick Kyrgios and Austria’s Dominic Thiem, world number 3, which led to the best of the second tower.
The atmosphere of encouraging shouting and chanting will not be repeated in the coming days, however. Grand Slam matches will continue as normal, until further notice.
A new set of coronavirus infections linked to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, has reached 13 cases, forcing authorities to tighten measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced the state blockade, allowing only outings for essential activities.
“The British strain is evolving at a speed never seen anywhere in our country, and this is the advice I have received from our health experts,” Andrews said. “As for how tennis will obey, I’ll let them talk, [mas] sporting events will function as a place of work and not as entertainment, as there will be no crowds. “
The tournament started on Monday (8) and ends on February 21. Until this Friday, the audience was limited to 50% of the normal Grand Slam capacity (up to 30,000 spectators per day) and had restricted movement within the complex, but could, for example, watch the matches on the courts without wearing masks.
“We have to assume that there are more cases in the community where we have had positive results and that the contamination is evolving at a rate that has not been observed in our country in the past 12 months,” said Andrews.
“The game will continue, players will compete in a bubble much like they’ve been doing for the past year,” said tournament director Craig Tiley. “Those who will have the authorization on site will be players and direct support teams.”
Victoria suffered from one of the toughest and longest quarantines in the world last year. It is the worst-affected state in the country, with a total of 28,879 Covid-19 cases and 909 deaths since the start of the pandemic – the last in October.
Ahead of the announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered the government’s full support for Victoria’s decisions to contain the outbreak.
“We were dealing with [surtos] over the last few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and therefore a proportional response allows trackers to be able to overcome them and achieve the same successful result that we have seen in other states, ”he said.