No COVID Cases in Vic, International Tennis Players Start to Arrive

No COVID Cases in Vic, International Tennis Players Start to Arrive
A general view of Rod Laver Arena at sunset in the third round match between Alex De Minaur of Australia and Rafael Nadal of Spain during day five of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The first of 1200 international tennis players, support crew and officials are expected to arrive in Melbourne for the Australian Open, as the state records no new COVID-19 cases.

Victoria has now gone eight consecutive days without a local or interstate-acquired coronavirus case. It also reported no cases in hotel quarantine.

Some 16,533 tests results were received in the 24 hours to the morning of January 14.

Meanwhile, a charter flight carrying tennis athletes and staff is scheduled to land at Tullamarine early Thursday evening.

It will be the first of 15 incoming private flights over a 36-hour window in preparation for the annual grand slam at Melbourne Park.

All of the players are expected to be “processed” in airport hangars, away from prying eyes and cameras, before being ushered away to quarantine.

The tournament has been delayed two weeks to February 8 after the Victorian government and tennis officials struck a deal over quarantine arrangements.

All players and staff arriving in Victoria must quarantine at one of three Australian Open-dedicated hotels for two weeks.

But each player and one support person - such as a coach or physiotherapist - are permitted to leave their hotel rooms for up to five hours for training and treatment. They will be tested daily.

Those in the “training bubble” are able to do so from the second day of their quarantine stint, providing they return negative virus test results.

If a player or staff test positive, they will be transferred to a medi-hotel.

Elsewhere, Victorian authorities want anyone in the state who completed mandatory hotel quarantine at Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor hotel on or after December 30 to self-isolate and immediately contact its coronavirus hotline.

The health department said released travellers must get tested and quarantine at home until they receive a negative result, after six people from the hotel contracted the more infectious UK strain of COVID-19.

Benita Kolovos, Callum Godde in Melbourne