By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The 2023 Australian Open Grand Slam lawn tennis tournament just faced early criticisms after announcing that they will be allowing participants diagnosed with COVID-19 to play in Melbourne.
Australian Open director Craig Tiley confirmed the tournament’s latest development several days before the main draw will kick off.
“We just wanted to follow what’s currently in the community. We have gone a step further by making a recommendation around staying away when you’re ill,” said Tiley.
It was a surprising turn of events after Novak Djokovic got deported last year when he attempted to break the rules imposed by the Australian government.
Last year’s edition of the Grand Slam tourney had strict rules and disallowed players who were unvaccinated to step onto their premises.
Djokovic, who was given direct entry to the main draw last 2022 despite being unvaccinated, flew to Australia and faced plenty of consequences after the government decided to deport him and bar him from joining the competition.
However, Tiley and the rest of the Australian Open board of organizers thought that they should adapt to the current situation and loosen the restrictions towards COVID-19.
“It’s a normalized environment for us and, not dissimilar to the cricket, there will potentially be players that will compete with COVID,” added Tiley.
Matt Renshaw, a cricketer from Australia, recently made headlines after playing against South Africa despite a positive COVID-19 test result.
Both the men’s and the women’s Australian Open qualifying rounds already began two days ago followed by the tournament’s main draw set to kick off on January 16, 2023.