Portugal’s Joao Sousa says he will not travel to Melbourne for the Australian Open despite returning a negative test for COVID-19 due to the Australian government’s strict protocols on a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.
Seventy-two players are currently confined to their rooms in Melbourne ahead of the Feb. 8-21 Grand Slam after positive cases were discovered on three flights ferrying them to Australia.
Sousa said he tested positive for COVID-19 before his departure but has since returned a negative test and is asymptomatic.
“Even though I already tested negative and have no symptoms, due to the strict rules of the Australian government, I won’t be able to travel,” Sousa wrote on Instagram on Saturday.
Sousa has not missed the main draw of a Grand Slam since 2013 when he was eliminated in the Wimbledon qualifiers.
The 31-year-old joins former world number one Andy Murray among players withdrawing from the year’s first Grand Slam after testing positive for the virus.
Victorian authorities on Saturday reported one new case linked to the Open, a man in his 20s who is not a player.
A further three non-players – two men in their 30s and one in his 50s – have meanwhile been confirmed to have the highly contagious UK strain of the virus.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria said all three had been in hard lockdown since they landed in Melbourne.
“The residents arrived in Melbourne on a dedicated Australian Open charter flight on 15 January and returned their first positive tests on 15, 17 and 18 January,” a spokesperson said.
There are 10 active cases linked to the Open and 970 people associated with the tournament in quarantine.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.