COVID-19 is not only wreaking havoc on human lives, sports events across the world are also facing the brunt of the deadly disease. Recently, multiple Premier League games were either cancelled or postponed due to rising cases in the United Kingdom. Now, a major tournament in another sport, tennis, is under a looming threat of the coronavirus.
With former champion Rafael Nadal becoming the latest tennis superstar to be infected with COVID-19, concerns are mounting over the hosting of the first Grand Slam of the year, Australian Open, in January.
On Monday, the former World No. 1 who made his return to action last week after a four-month injury layoff, posted on Twitter that he was COVID positive.
Nadal was tested upon his arrival from Abu Dhabi, where he participated in an exhibition event, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. The Spaniard was beaten by Britain’s Andy Murray in the semis of the competition on Friday.
Nadal, 35, was scheduled to feature in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne in two weeks. But COVID has now thrown his plans into limbo. With a 14-day mandatory quarantine period in place across the island nation, he is also a doubtful starter for the Australian Open.
Besides Nadal, top-ranked Novak Djokovic could miss the tournament as he hasn’t made his vaccination status public despite repeated media requests.
In the run-up to the 2022 edition of the prestigious Grand Slam, reigning champion Djokovic has been at loggerheads with Australian Open authorities for making vaccination mandatory for participation in the tournament.
According to the state of Victoria’s rules, all participants, including players, support staff, officials and spectators must be fully vaccinated to have any kind of presence in the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Canadian star and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu will skip the Melbourne Slam because she was still dealing with the side-effects of COVID-19 on her mental wellbeing.
“A lot of days, I did not feel like myself, especially while I was training and/or playing matches”, Andreescu said at the start of this month.
The Australian Open begins 17 January at Melbourne Park.