Officials in Australia moved mountains to make the country’s annual professional tennis swing happen. That will be far more difficult after the tour leaves this isolated, island nation.
MELBOURNE, Australia — By sheer force of will, professional tennis inched toward normalcy this week, with a flurry of events in a country that has managed to nearly smother the coronavirus.
The three tournaments and a men’s team competition called the ATP Cup, in which players compete for their countries, have turned Melbourne Park into a sea of matches with the gates open to spectators. Hundreds of matches were scheduled this week at the tennis complex, which is on the banks of the Yarra River, just a few hundred yards down a hill from this city’s downtown. The smaller events lead into the Australian Open, the centerpiece of the summer tennis season here, which is scheduled to begin on Monday.
A stern reminder of the challenge to public health represented by the events came Wednesday when Australian Open organizers said a hotel quarantine worker had tested positive for the virus. That prompted a suspension of play on Thursday and orders for all of those associated with the tennis events at the hotel to isolate in their rooms until they return a negative test.
The positive test ended a 28-day run of zero community transmission in the state of Victoria, The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, reported. The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, was not immediately affected, but the positive test made clear that the event — with all its planning and precaution — could be upended if more people are infected.