The world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has found himself in a spot of bother again, after he reportedly presented Tennis Australia with a list of demands regarding the COVID-19 quarantine situation.
Currently, more than 70 tennis players slated to play in the upcoming Australian Open—the first major tournament of the year—are not allowed to leave their hotel rooms. That’s because several flights carrying the players into Australia were found to have had active cases of COVID on them.
It’s a tough break, as the quarantined players are forced to figure out how to prepare for the tournament in their hotel rooms. In response, Djokovic—who was heavily criticized last summer for holding an exhibition tournament that wound up being a super-spreader event—sent Tennis Australia head Craig Tiley a letter demanding that restrictions be relaxed to better accommodate the players.
Djokovic’s missive, according to Spanish website Punto de Break, asked for players to be moved out of their hotel rooms and into private houses that have tennis courts. He also demanded training and fitness equipment for the players’ hotel rooms and better food. Perhaps the players can be smuggled out in packages via courier Sydney.
The ideas were swiftly rejected by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who said the players that they were made aware of the rules, and agreed to them, before they traveled to Sydney for the tournament. Athletes, he stated, will not be given any “special treatment.”
“That was the condition on which they came,” Andrews said. “There’s no special treatment here, because the virus doesn’t treat you specially. So neither do we.” He added: “People are free to provide a list of demands. But the answer is no … There’s no special treatment here.”
When news of Djokovic’s letter broke, Australian player Nick Kyrgios wrote on Twitter that “Djokovic is a tool.” Kyrgios has been one of the Serbian’s most vocal critics over the past year.
Some of the quarantined players deny that they were warned about the strict protocols in advance.
“What I don’t understand is … why no one ever told us, if one person on board is positive the whole plane need to be isolated,” Russian world number 28 Yulia Putintseva said. “I would think twice before coming here.”
Swiss world number 12 Belinda Bencic seconded that notion, adding that the situation gives non-quarantined players a big competitive advantage.
Asked to respond to such remarks from the players, Andrews said: “The notion that there’s been any change, the notion that people weren’t briefed, I think that argument really has no integrity whatsoever.”