The Australian Open 2021 seems to be lurching from one bad news to another even before the ball is officially set rolling.
After reports that two plane-loads of players had been forced into quarantine without the option of training after a few crew members in their chartered flights tested COVID positive, several players took to Instagram to vent their ire over the food being served under quarantine.
Now, it appears that the tournament organizers are having trouble scheduling the practice sessions as well. According to a tweet by a sports journalist, the first practice session on Monday, which was scheduled at 7.30 am (local time) was delayed by more than two hours.
As a result of the delay, all the other training sessions that were to follow had to be pushed back as well.
The post also seemed to suggest that the players were left in the lurch as they neither had any prior word on the delay nor any information on when their training sessions would be scheduled. “The first practice of the day was scheduled for 07.30 am in Melbourne. Delay of over two hours and players still waiting for a signal. Each session to follow is postponed consequently. #AO2021,” the post read.
Another post on Twitter showed rising Australian tennis star Alex De Minaur sitting in a room, with his tennis bag slung over his shoulders, waiting for a ride to the practice court.
Argentine Diego Schwartzman was among the top stars who voiced their misgivings over the delay in practice.
The logistical hitches seem to be mounting even before the tournament is thrown open to the public and will double the concerns for Tennis Australia, which is already strained to its limits in managing the evolving logistical challenges of hosting an event of this magnitude at a time when the pandemic is still raging.
On Sunday, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley ruled out further postponing the Australian Open in the light of recent developments. He said that the event, for now, would go ahead as planned.
Several marquee names in the game, including the men’s top three – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Dominic Thiem – have already arrived for the year’s first Grand Slam.