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Victoria accused of ‘double standards’ over Australian Open

The Victorian government is being accused of double standards as it welcomes over 1000 tennis players and officials ahead of the Australian Open, despite its own residents overseas and interstate unable to get home.

Around 1200 elite international players and their support staff are set to arrive in Melbourne to begin their 14-day coronavirus quarantines ahead of the tournament on February 8.

Hundreds have already arrived since Thursday, flying in on chartered flights organised by the Australian Open.

World Number 2 player Rafael Nadal has arrived in Australia and entered hotel quarantine, ahead of the Australian Open on February 8. (9News)
There are still more than 37,000 Australians stranded overseas and unable to get home, with 4800 of those classed as “vulnerable”.
Bernard Tomic arrives in Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open. (9News)
A bus transports Australian Open players and officials to the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne, where they will undergo 14 days in quarantine. (9News)

All Australian Open players and officials must return a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to Australia.

Two players, former world number one Andy Murray, and Grand Slam finalist Madison Keys have already had to cancel their travel plans after returning positive tests.

The players will spend 14 days in three quarantine hotels in Melbourne, but will be allowed out for five hours each day to train.

Despite the strict measures, the move has attracted criticism from stranded Australians as well as politicians interstate and airline bosses.

Sydney and Brisbane remain designated “red zones” according to the Victorian government’s “traffic zone” system for identifying hot spots, despite both cities reporting a number of days without locally acquired cases.

Victoria’s tough border restrictions remain in place, with anyone who has been in Sydney or Brisbane barred from entering. (Jason Robins / Nine)

This means all residents from those regions are barred entry, unless granted a special exemption, leaving hundreds of Victorians unable to return home.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described the decision as “devastating”, saying it was bizarre to let tennis players in from countries where COVID-19 ran rampant, while Victorians interstate were left stranded.

“Victoria’s approach to Sydney seems to be out of proportion with the actual risk,” Mr Joyce said on Friday.

He said Qantas and its budget arm Jetstar had cancelled almost 3000 flights between Melbourne and Sydney since the northern beaches outbreak saw borders slam close before Christmas.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has labelled Victoria’s ongoing border restrictions as devastating. (Louise Kennerley)

“Behind each of those cancelled flights are a lot of people whose plans have been thrown up in the air,” Mr Joyce said.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance yesterday accused the Victorian government of inconsistency in its border restrictions.

“Against the backdrop of having an international event and trying to maintain normalcy: fine,” Mr Constance said.

“But I think where this falls short is the inconsistency in their decision making.

“Throughout 2021, we need consistency around the trigger points that these state restrictions are going to have or else it will just trash jobs.”

Source: 9News | World News

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