The first Grand Slam of the year is the Australian Open that is just about the begin. Players and trainers are already on the scene, trying to survive the remaining time till the beginning of the tournament. The changes to the tournament has been known for a long time, but surprises appear on the go and are not good at all.
Turns out the quarantine players and coaches have to undergo is not what they were hoping for. After having four virus cases that were detected on charter flights to Australia, players were greeted by police at the airport and escorted to their hotel rooms. 72 players are under strict quarantine, which means they are not allowed to leave their room and training 5 hours a day, as it has been established previously is not possible anymore. There's police and security on the hallway, so leaving the room is not an option, food is delivered to the door.
Novak Djokovic is one of them, he has made a request asking for shorter quarantine period, permission for players to visit their coaches as well as access to courts where they could train. His request has been denied as authorities say there's no special treatment for anyone.
In these conditions staying in shape is not totally impossible but not exactly the ideal setup for preparing to a tournament like the Australian Open. I'm sure every one of them has been taught to use what they can to exercise as having a gym is not always possible, but without a tennis court, there's not much they can do.
Britain's Heather Watson is the other player locked in the room, and she ran 3 miles in her tiny hotel room, which is not impossible but not ideal either. Having to turn every 2 or 3 meters not only makes you dizzy but it kills your joint as well.
Tennis Australia has begun delivering exercise equipment to the isolated players and quite a few started to hit the wall or the window with their balls. Others have tried their luck, opening their door and going out to the corridor, action which can be fines with $20,000.
The biggest problem of all is players didn't know they could face this kind of quarantine in case they come in contact with infected individuals. They say they would have stayed home, instead of exposing themselves to this unfair treatment. The truth is, it is indeed unfair as the other players can train in normal conditions and the result will show on the tennis court during the tournament.
I'm really curious to see how this tournament will end and I'm not referring only to the results. Last year was different, I believe measures were not so strict. This tournament sets the tone of the season. Now that players know what they have to go through in case of exposure to contamination, they may stay home and no one can blame them. It's one thing to lose because the opponent is better and a totally different thing to lose because you were locked in a tiny room without any possibility to train. Two weeks is a long time without proper training and losing is the better case, as injuries can happen first.
After the quarantine ends, players with negative covid test could come out from isolation, but will be escorted from their hotel room to training sessions and back. Moving freely will not be possible.
Things are not looking good at all but I can hardly wait to see some quality matches.
Tokyo Olympic officials are changing their position. After strongly sticking to schedule, saying the show must go on and games will be organized according to schedule, one of the officials finally admitted that things could go either way. This is confirmation that they don't believe in what they are saying, they know very well there's a huge possibility of cancelling the games. I guess we'll know more in a month or two, when they have to make a final decision.
My advice, watch as much sports as you can as this year will be worse than the last one. I hope I'm wrong though. Last year was bad enough, we don't need another one.