|Wash. Post -- Australian Open players in quarantine accused of feeding mice in their hotel rooms|
Jan. 20, 2021
Australian Open players in quarantine accused of feeding mice in their hotel rooms
By Cindy Boren
In the latest surreal development before next month’s Australian Open, tennis players and members of their entourages were accused of feeding mice in their hotel rooms as they quarantine for two weeks because of exposure to airline passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lisa Neville, Victoria’s emergency services director, urged the hotel guests to “minimize interaction” with the rodents.
“As I understand, there may have been some feeding going on,” she said. “We will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”
Neville also said that those in quarantine are expected to do their own housekeeping. “Every tennis player needs to clean their own room and change their own beds if they want that,” she said.
Yulia Putintseva, the world’s 28th ranked player, had complained about checking into a room occupied by a mouse and was subsequently relocated into another room. There, she learned that there’s never just one mouse and it’s never just in one room.
“It’s actually a lot of them!” she tweeted with video proof.
Putintseva, from Kazakhstan, had repeatedly complained about the accommodations for quarantined players, writing that the system was “a joke.
“im not in the 5 star hotel, (you) are kidding, im in the room with mouses and spiders,” she wrote.
She is among the 72 players and members of their entourages who have been confined, unable to leave their rooms in Melbourne even to practice or get meals ahead of the Feb. 8 tournament, the first Grand Slam of the year.
The group entered quarantine over the weekend after arriving on three flights from Qatar, the site of qualifying tournaments. Several other passengers tested positive upon arrival, triggering the quarantine. According to Neville, 10 people who flew to Melbourne have tested positive for the coronavirus, with two players and a support person the latest positive tests.
Everyone arriving for the tournament must isolate for two weeks. But players who were not exposed to someone who tested positive can leave for five hours a day to practice, work out and get food. Players had agreed to those rules, but the quarantined players now face a disparity in preparation. Although tennis officials have requested that players who repeatedly test negative over their first days in the country be treated leniently, government officials have refused.
And so the players among the unfortunate 72 have been left working out in their rooms, hitting balls against the wall and riding stationary bicycles. Putintseva has been among the most vocal critics of their treatment, holding a sign that says, “We need fresh air to breathe,” in an Instagram post.
Retired Australian great Rennae Stubbs criticized Putintseva for her complaints, pointing out that she was guaranteed a minimum of $100,000 for going through quarantine and competing in the singles draw.
“I should not complain and just go to sleep?” Putintseva wrote to Stubbs, along with a video of a mouse.
“I do understand the players, this is a new experience for them and I don’t think anyone expected to know what the 14 days was like and they are adapting to it,” Craig Tiley, the chief executive of Tennis Australia and tournament director, told “ABC News Breakfast.”
“At the beginning, it was pretty challenging with their adaptation. It’s got a lot better. I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and there is a minority struggling with it, but we are going to do whatever we can to make it better for them.”
© 2021 The Washington Post.