The Australian Open will go ahead as scheduled despite 47 players being forced into hard lockdown amid positive COVID-19 cases, according to Tennis Australia's CEO Craig Tiley.

The tournament was plunged into a crisis on Saturday when two positive cases were detected on two charter flights carrying players into Melbourne.

Tournament officials said two passengers on a flight from Los Angeles that arrived on Friday morning had tested positive, along with one passenger who travelled in from Abu Dhabi.

None of those who tested positive were said to be players, although one was described as a "participant", which may mean a member of a player's entourage.

Australia's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said those aboard the flights were considered 'close contacts' of those with the virus, and that means they will be confined to their hotel bedrooms for the next two weeks.

Isolating players are unable to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days until they are medically cleared, but Tiley insists there are no plans to postpone the tournament. 

"It's not something we wanted to happen," he told The Today Show. "We were hoping every flight would be okay. We're in this situation, we have to deal with it.

"The Australian Open is going ahead and we'll continue to do the best we can possibly do to ensure those players, who are not in a great position, find it somewhat acceptable.

"We're planning on February 8, we do have that buffer time in there. We're looking forward to welcoming fans to the Australian Open.

"Ticket sales have been going well, we've got two weeks of great tennis and our intention is to continue with those dates."

The Australian Open has pulled out all the stops in an effort to get the grand slam on, and that has meant all players have had to arrive early and go into quarantine, although most will be allowed to spend five hours outside their hotel rooms each day, to allow for practice and gym work.

Such limited liberties will not be afforded to those hit by the news of the positive tests on their flights.

The Australian Open was plunged into a crisis on Saturday as positive COVID-19 cases were detected on two charter flights into Melbourne, forcing 47 players into hard lockdown for a fortnight.

Tournament officials said two passengers on a flight from Los Angeles that arrived on Friday morning had tested positive, along with one passenger who travelled in from Abu Dhabi.

None of those who tested positive were said to be players, although one was described as a "participant", which may mean a member of a player's entourage.

About 1,200 players and staff are arriving in Melbourne ahead of the delayed Australian Open, which is due to get under way on February 8.

They are travelling on sparsely populated aeroplanes to allow for social distancing, with 79 people, including 24 players, aboard the flight from Los Angeles and 64 people, including 23 players, arriving from Abu Dhabi. It was reported that players affected included recent grand slam champions.

A statement from the Australian Open said the players "will not be able to leave their hotel room for 14 days and until they are medically cleared. They will not be eligible to practise."

Australia's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said those aboard the flights were considered 'close contacts' of those with the virus, and that means they will be confined to their hotel bedrooms for the next two weeks.

The Australian Open has pulled out all the stops in an effort to get the grand slam on, and that has meant all players have had to arrive early and go into quarantine, although most will be allowed to spend five hours outside their hotel rooms each day, to allow for practice and gym work.

Such limited liberties will not be afforded to those hit by the news of the positive tests on their flights.

French player Alize Cornet questioned why such steps were necessary, writing on Twitter: "Soon, half of the players from the AO will actually have to isolate. Weeks and weeks of practice and hard work going to waste for one person positive to Covid in a 3/4 empty plane. Sorry but this is insane."

The 30-year-old world number 53 added: "I just think that these measures are not made to hold an international tennis event."

Cornet, who said she was not on an affected flight, believed there were meant to be measures in place to avoid wholesale lockdown in the case of positive tests.

She said: "We've been told that the plane would be separated by section of 10 people and that if one person of your section was positive, then you had to isolate. Not that the whole plane had to."

Victoria on Saturday recorded its 10th consecutive day with no locally acquired cases of coronavirus.

Mauricio Pochettino will miss Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 clash with Angers after testing positive for coronavirus.

The club confirmed in a tweet that Pochettino had returned a positive PCR test and will enter self-isolation.

Assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D'Agostino will take charge for Saturday's clash at the Stade Jean-Bouin.

After a 1-1 draw against Saint-Etienne in his first game at the helm, Pochettino has overseen a 3-0 win over Brest and a 2-1 Trophee des Champions victory against Marseille.

Wednesday's defeat of PSG's arch rivals secured Pochettino's first trophy of his career as a coach.

PSG are a point behind Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.

Kyrie Irving is counting the cost of attending a party last weekend after the Brooklyn Nets star was handed sanctions that looks set to leave him almost $900,000 out of pocket.

The NBA declared on Friday that it had imposed a $50,000 fine on Irving, who according to TMZ and widespread reports attended a large family birthday celebration while not wearing a mask.

That was in contravention of the league's coronavirus protocols.

But that penalty is just the tip of a very large iceberg, as Irving also must sacrifice his salary for the games he has since missed while quarantining, and according to ESPN's Bobby Marks that amounts to $816,898 in addition to the fine.

In a statement, the NBA said: "Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols, which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, president, league operations.

"The violation occurred when he attended a private indoor party last weekend.

"Irving will forfeit salary for any games he misses due to his five-day quarantine period, which will allow him to return to team activities on Saturday, January 16 if he continues to test negative."

Irving has averaged 27.1 points in his seven NBA appearances for the Nets this season, but for personal reasons he has not played in the team's most recent five games.

The 28-year-old six-time NBA All-Star joined the Nets in 2019 from the Boston Celtics and began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, landing a 2016 championship with the Cavs.

The Nets face the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Barcelona have been forced to postpone their presidential elections due to concerns around mounting coronavirus cases.

Catalonia's regional government told the club in a meeting on Friday that it could not authorise members to travel to a polling station outside their local area on election day.

Because of these restrictions on movement, Barca have declared it impossible to hold elections as planned on January 24.

There are three candidates still in the running for the presidency: favourite Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa.

In a statement, the club also said: "In this sense, the club has asked the Catalan Government to evaluate the possibility of modifying the current sports legislation in order to enable voting by post on the new date of the elections, a request that the Government has undertaken to study."

While Spain has so far resisted implementing a new stringent national lockdown, regional restrictions have been toughened in recent weeks due to increasing cases of COVID-19.

On Thursday, there were 35,878 confirmed cases of the virus – the second highest daily total – and 201 deaths across the country.

There are at least 19,000 people being treated in hospital having tested positive for the virus, forcing some areas to cancel non-essential surgeries. The country has partly blamed the rise in cases on the highly infectious new strain first identified in the United Kingdom.

Madison Keys is set to miss the Australian Open after testing positive for coronavirus.

The 2017 US Open runner-up announced on Thursday that she contracted COVID-19 before she was due to fly out for the first grand slam of the year.

Keys did not state she will definitely miss the major, which starts on February 8, but it appears the American will not make the trip to Melbourne.

The American wrote on Instagram: "Hi everyone, I wanted to let you know that I unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 before I was supposed to fly to Australia.

"I'm very disappointed to not be able to play in the coming weeks after training hard in the off-season and knowing Tennis Australia and the tours did so much to make these events happen.

"I am self-isolating at home and will continue to follow all the necessary health precautions. I look forward to being back on tour next month."

It was revealed earlier in the day that three-time major winner Andy Murray has also tested positive for the virus, but still hopes to play in the Australian Open.

Meanwhile, world number 50 Tennys Sandgren was cleared to board a flight from the United States bound for Melbourne despite revealing he returned a new positive coronavirus test this week. 

The American, twice a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, initially posted to social media on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus for a second time. 

Although his first instance of having the illness was recorded in November, the 29-year-old's participation in the tournament appeared to be in doubt. 

But as he continued to update followers through the day, it emerged he had been allowed to board his flight. 

Players will only be allowed into Australia with proof of a negative test just prior to departure, or with approval to travel as a recovered case at the complete discretion of an Australian government authority.

Anyone wanting to travel out for the tournament who previously tested positive is required to provide additional and highly detailed medical information as proof they are a recovered case and no longer infectious or a risk to the community.

 

The Australian Open has hinted Andy Murray will not be able to compete in Melbourne following his positive test for coronavirus.

Murray, a five-time finalist at the Australian Open, remains in good health and is isolating at home.

The three-time grand slam winner is still hoping to play and travel to Australia later than planned.

However, a statement from the tournament cast serious doubt on his involvement, with Murray – ranked 123rd in the world – having initially been granted a wildcard to play.

The statement read: "Andy Murray has advised that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home in the UK.

"Unfortunately, this means that he will be unable to join the official AO charter flights arriving in Australia in the coming days to go through the quarantine period with the other players.

"The AO fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he'd worked for this opportunity."

The first grand slam of the year is starting three weeks later than it normally would on February 8 due to the complications of players flying into Australia amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Tournament organisers are putting on 15 chartered flights, which will operate at 25 per cent capacity, to bring players to the tournament.

Before boarding, competitors must test negative and will undergo a series of tests once in the country, while undergoing a 14-day quarantine period in Melbourne.

It was after a first-round defeat at the Australian Open two years ago that Murray stated his career might be over due to an ongoing hip injury.

Andy Murray's participation at the Australian Open is in doubt following a positive COVID-19 test.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray remains in good health but is isolating at home.

The 33-year-old Briton is still hopeful of being able to travel to Australia later than planned and taking part in the first grand slam of the year.

Murray received a wildcard for the Australian Open, where he has been a runner-up on five occasions.

It is set to be the Briton's first participation at Melbourne Park since announcing after a first-round loss in 2019 that his career was in the balance due to a persistent hip injury.

The Australian Open is scheduled to get under way on February 8.

Rafael Nadal will be without his coach Carlos Moya due to the pandemic, while Dominic Thiem's coach Nicolas Massu tested positive before travelling to Australia.

It is still hoped that Massu can make the trip following a negative result.

Tennys Sandgren was cleared to board a flight from the United States bound for Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open despite revealing he returned a new positive coronavirus test this week. 

The American, twice a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, initially posted to social media on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus for a second time. 

Although his first instance of having the illness was recorded in November, the 29-year-old's participation in the tournament appeared to be in doubt. 

But, as he continued to update followers through the day, it emerged he had been allowed to board his flight. 

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Wait hold on I think they are trying to get me on 15 min [sic] after the plane was supposed to depart.. my bags still aren't checked lol." 

A follow-up read: "Wow I'm on the plane. Maybe I just held my breath too long. Craig Tiley [Tennis Australia] is a wizard." 

Some expressed concerns about the possibility of Sandgren potentially spreading the virus to fellow passengers and then locals once he arrives in Australia. 

But a statement from the Australian Open has looked to reassure people that players' infectiousness is checked prior to boarding flights. 

It read: "In the case of Tennys Sandgren, who has self-disclosed that he previously tested positive in late November, his medical file had to be reviewed by Victorian health authorities. Upon completion of that review he was cleared to fly.

"Any recovered case must go through this process in order to have an opportunity to travel here for the Australian Open. No one can travel without either proof of a negative test or this special clearance from authorities confirming they are not infectious. 

"Upon arrival all players are immediately placed in a secure quarantine environment for 14 days under the authority of COVID Quarantine Victoria, and will undergo a more rigorous testing schedule than most returning travellers." 

An earlier statement issued by the tournament organisers in reply to Sandgren's tweets said: "Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 and who are non-infectious can continue to shed the virus for several months. 

"Victorian Government public health experts assess each case based on additional detailed medical records to ensure they are not infectious before checking in to the charter flights. 

"Players and their teams are tested every day from their arrival in Australia, a much stricter process than for anyone else in hotel quarantine." 

The first grand slam of the year is due to begin on February 8 after being delayed due to the pandemic. 

Initially it was to run from January 18-31 but was pushed back to help give qualifiers time to travel and complete a two-week quarantine in Australia prior to warm-up events getting under way at the end of the month. 

Players at Melbourne Park will have to follow strict guidelines and protocols, including a five-hour limit on training with a maximum of one team member. 

The teams must stay in their hotel for the other 19 hours of every day, and players have to return six negative COVID-19 tests before being allowed to play.

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will miss the Los Angeles Clippers matchup due to the NBA's health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pelicans announced Williamson's absence prior to Wednesday's tip-off against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

New Orleans were already set to be without Lonzo Ball (knee) and Eric Bledsoe (eye) for the Clippers showdown as they try to arrest a three-game slump.

Williamson – the number one draft pick in 2019 – has been averaging 21.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Pelicans (4-5) this season.

It comes after the NBA postponed Wednesday's Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns game due to league rules on health and safety protocols.

The scheduled midweek contests between the Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics were also postponed amid the growing impact of COVID-19 on the NBA season.

The Washington Wizards' clash against the Utah Jazz scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed amid coronavirus concerns.

The Wizards announced on Tuesday they had Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner enter the NBA's health and safety protocols and had cancelled their scheduled practice.

Washington (3-8) were due to face the Jazz on Wednesday, but that game will not go ahead in the latest postponement in the NBA due to COVID-19.

"The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tomorrow between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena has been postponed in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols," an NBA statement read.

"Because of ongoing contact tracing with the Wizards, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tomorrow's game against the Jazz."

The Boston Celtics have had three straight games postponed, while the Houston Rockets also had a clash pushed back earlier in the season.

The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, played against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday despite having just eight active players.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will remain absent and there is no timeline for a return as the team and NBA review videos circulating on social media.

Irving will sit out his fourth consecutive game on Tuesday due to personal reasons amid the emergence of videos that appeared to show the six-time All-Star without a mask at a family birthday party.

The NBA's coronavirus protocols ban players from entering clubs, bars and lounges, while they are also forbidden from attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.

Nets general manager Sean Marks addressed the situation in a statement on Tuesday, prior to Brooklyn's matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

"We are aware of a video on social media featuring Kyrie Irving at a family gathering," Marks said.

"We are reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.

"Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons. A date of his return has yet to be finalised. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organisational goals.

"Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so."

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Nets (5-6) this season.

The Boston Celtics have had another game postponed after their clash with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA announced the game could not go ahead as planned, just as Sunday's clash with the Miami Heat and Tuesday's planned encounter with the Chicago Bulls could also not be played.

The Celtics would have been without nine players for the Heat game at the weekend, including seven absentees owing to COVID-19 protocols, but at the time they had the minimum eight players available.

It was a contact tracing matter within the Heat camp, after a player reportedly had an inconclusive coronavirus test, that triggered that postponement, but the Celtics' trip to face the Bulls was then also scratched.

On Tuesday, it was announced the Celtics no longer had sufficient players available to form a team.

The NBA said in a statement: "The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tomorrow between the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics at TD Garden has been postponed in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols.

"Because of testing and contact tracing within the Celtics, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tomorrow’s game against Orlando."

Neymar will make his return for Paris Saint-Germain when they take on rivals Marseille in the Trophee des Champions.

PSG will look to win the trophy for a remarkable eighth consecutive season as they line up against Marseille in Lens on Wednesday.

New head coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Neymar will play some part in the contest after missing the last five matches with an ankle injury.

"Neymar is available - he will be with the group," Pochettino said about the Brazil forward, who has been out for a month since the Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon.

"We will decide on Wednesday if he will start."

There have been concerns about burnout for Kylian Mbappe, who again played 90 minutes in the 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest on Saturday.

But Pochettino is optimistic about the World Cup winner's fitness ahead of a match with high stakes, where the coach feels pride is more important than the silverware on offer.

"Kylian is in perfect condition," Pochettino said when asked if Mbappe could start for a third time in eight days.

"We are evaluating the different options for our line-up on Wednesday. We will see which team is the best to win this match. We need to perform at the best level to get the win against Marseille.

"My main motivation is to win this game. We are playing against a great rival in OM. Pride is important, much more than titles. We will do everything to win this match. 

"If we win, we know it will bring a trophy. But the most important thing is pride."

Asked about his own experiences of Le Classique as a PSG player, Pochettino added: "I remember these meetings perfectly.

"All the games were very special. For the players, the fans, the club, football is a sport of emotions.

"We realise with the health situation how much we miss the fans. The importance of this match, I had already felt it in my time."

Five players were sent off in stoppage time when these two sides met in Ligue 1 in September, following a brawl, but Pochettino sees that having no bearing on this week's game.

"The first match [against Marseille this season] is one I was not involved in. I can't talk much about it. I saw pictures. The situation is over," Pochettino said.

PSG will be without Colin Dagba, the latest player at the club to test positive for coronavirus.

Dagba has started both PSG games under Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side as he is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Colin Dagba is the latest Paris Saint-Germain player to test positive for coronavirus ahead of the Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille.

Dagba has started both PSG games under new head coach Mauricio Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.

The Ligue 1 champions confirmed on Tuesday that Dagba had contracted COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia were on target as PSG secured a first win of the Pochettino era on Saturday, beating Brest 3-0 in Ligue 1.

 

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