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Australian Open news | Novak Djokovic’s proposals for players in hard quarantine, after COVID-19 affected flights

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has reportedly tabled a list of proposals to aid Australian Open players affected by hard quarantine – only to be quickly shut down by Victoria’s COVID-19 quarantine boss and Premier Daniel Andrews.

The list, which includes reducing the mandatory 14 days of hard isolation following COVID-19 positive tests on incoming flights, has been received with raised eyebrows given Djokovic’s dubious history with coronavirus biosecurity measures.

With 72 players from three affected flights now in hard lockdown, Djokovic made the following proposals regarding their conditions to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, according to Spanish tennis website Punto de Break.

– Fitness and training material in all rooms

– Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete (after complaints were made by players about quarantine food)

– Reduce the days of isolation for the (72) isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative

– Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR (tests)

– If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel

– Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train.

The proposals were quickly rejected by the commissioner of COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, Emma Cassar, then the Premier.

“I know there’s been a bit of chatter from a number of players, about the rules. Well the rules apply to them as they apply to everybody else,” Andrews said.

“They were all briefed on that before they came, and that was a condition on which they came. There’s no special treatment here.

“People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no. That was very clearly laid out beforehand, so the notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed, that argument has no integrity whatsoever.

“Whilst the event is very important, nothing is more important than making sure we follow public health advice and keep the state safe.”

Djokovic infamously held the Adria Tour event last year, despite the ongoing spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe.

The tour allowed packed crowds with no social distancing and several players – including Djokovic, plus his wife Jelena – contracted coronavirus. Djokovic and other players were seen partying shirtless in a nightclub during one leg of the tour.

That means that his opinions on appropriate measures for COVID-19 containment have limited credibility, as pointed out by 3AW broadcaster and Wide World of Sports columnist Shane McInnes.

Craig Gabriel, Nine Radio’s long-time tennis correspondent, said that Djokovic was “dreaming” with his wish-list.

Yet former Wimbledon winner Pat Cash told TODAY that parts of the list were legitimate suggestions.

“I think some of it’s probably very reasonable. It’s what he wants, it’s his wish-list – but I don’t think he’ll get that wish-list,” Cash said on Monday.

“Certainly the food that’s been dropped here, it’ll keep you alive but it’s not something an athlete would be able to perform on, there’s no doubts about that.”

Djokovic’s behaviour raised eyebrows as soon as he arrived in Australia, after he declined to wear a mask on a shuttle bus.

Djokovic, who was president of the ATP Players’ Council before quitting to launch the breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association, is one of the elite players now preparing for the Australian Open within a special hub in Adelaide.

The Adelaide hub has been criticised by rank-and-file players as it offers more normal living conditions during the 14-day quarantine.

Players not stuck in hard lockdown have been granted five hours per day to practice, train and eat, while players in the Adelaide hub – also including Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka – can access a gym outside of their five-hour window.

Below is a look at a schedule in the Melbourne quarantine bubble, for players unaffected by hard quarantine.

Osaka reportedly deleted the below image from the Adelaide bubble, as it sparked anger among players outside the exclusive environment.

One player in hard quarantine, doubles specialist Philipp Oswald, said that players were upset about the glaring discrepancies in player treatment. He told tennisnet.com: “It’s not apples and apples here, but apples and pears – and I caught the sour lemon.

“The top stars are always treated better. But they earned it somewhere because they bring the money and the whole tour lives off of them.

“Normally the players have no problem with this hierarchy, because it is about Rafa or Domi practicing at the best time on centre court. Now they are allowed to practice more. It’s really unfair if you look at it objectively.”

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