No special favours for virus-hit Andy Murray, Aussie health chiefs say

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Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Health chiefs on Friday vowed there will be no preferential treatment for five-time finalist Andy Murray, saying he must return a negative Covid-19 test if he wants to play the Australian Open.

The former world No 1 was due to travel to Melbourne on one of a series of charter flights laid on by tournament organisers, but revealed on Thursday he had tested positive for the virus.

He is isolating at home in London, casting major doubt over whether he will be able to play the opening Grand Slam of the year.

Britain's Press Association news agency said the three-time major winner, apparently in good health, was hoping to arrive in Australia at a later date.

But Victorian state health minister Martin Foley said the Scotsman won't be getting any special favours.

"In regards to Mr. Murray, we've been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the programme coming into Melbourne and Australia," he told reporters.

"Mr Murray, and the other 1 240 people as part of the programme, need to demonstrate that if they're coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.

"So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else. Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused."

Murray was handed a wildcard to the Open, hoping to make his first appearance in Melbourne since 2019, when he revealed the extent of a right hip problem and raised the possibility of imminent retirement.

More than 1 200 players and support staff have begun arriving for 14 days' quarantine ahead of the delayed tournament, which is due to start on 8 February.

They are being greeted by biosecurity officials wearing personal protective equipment, before being whisked away to hotel quarantine.

Players are only allowed into the country with proof of a negative test prior to departure, or with approval as a recovered case at the Australian government's discretion.

That rule applied to American world No 50 Tennys Sandgren, who was permitted onto a flight from Los Angeles on Thursday despite tweeting that he tested positive this week.

It was his second positive result, having been diagnosed with Covid-19 in November.

"Mr Sandgren is not infectious. His infection is historical," said Foley. "So, he's met the rigorous health criteria that has been set."

The tournament has already lost some key players, with Roger Federer out injured and world No 25 John Isner opting not to travel due to the coronavirus restrictions.

In another blow, American world No 16 Madison Keys said she too had tested positive and would not play.

Meanwhile, world No 3 Dominic Thiem arrived without coach Nicolas Massu, who has also tested positive, and Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal is missing his coach Carlos Moya who has decided not to make the trip.

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