Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been criticized by Australian player Nick Kyrgios, after the world number one lobbied authorities to relax quarantine rules for Australian Open players.
More than 1,200 players and staff flew into Australia last week for the Grand Slam which begins on 8 February.
But coronavirus cases on three flights has forced 72 players to isolate full-time in their hotel room for 14 days.
Highlighting some players’ frustration, Djokovic called for different rules.
But his suggestions – such as shorter quarantine periods – were rebuffed by Victoria state authorities who want to keep infections at very low levels.
State Premier Daniel Andrews said the measures were necessary to protect the public and tennis stars would get “no special treatment”.
Following that, Kyrgios tweeted a news clip of the saga on Monday night and wrote: “Djokovic is a tool.”
The outspoken Australian, ranked 47th in men’s singles, has previously criticized Djokovic over the coronavirus, after the Serb organized an exhibition event last year in which he and others contracted the virus.
“That’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. THIS IS NOT A JOKE,” Kyrgios wrote at the time.
Many connected to the Australian Open have expressed frustration over their forced isolation, most commonly for the disruption to player preparation.
Kyrgios also criticised the girlfriend of fellow Australian player Bernard Tomic after she featured in the same news clip complaining about the hotel food and having to wash her hair by herself.
“[She] obviously has no perspective, ridiculous scenes,” Kyrgios wrote in the same tweet. Vanessa Sierra has since said that her comments were taken out of context and that she had received death threats, after her “I don’t wash my own hair” quote was mocked online.
Kyrgios’ comments have largely been popularly received in Australia, where many have rubbished some players’ attitudes to virus restrictions.
Residents of Melbourne, home city of the Australian Open, endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns last year and had expressed concerns about the risk posed by the sporting event.
“Sure it’s not great to be cooped in a hotel room for that period of time but you know, I think they just have to get a grip,” said Labor MP Bill Shorten.
“Covid has been shocking. People have died. People lost their jobs… and you got these pampered sooks who are having a cry over their conditions.”
Event organisers say the majority of the about 500 players attending the Open have accepted the conditions, including those who are confined to their hotel rooms.
“I think the reports we’re seeing… doesn’t represent the entire playing group. For the most part, they have been really good,” said Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley on Tuesday.
He acknowledged it was “not an even playing field” for those stuck in their hotel rooms, given their competitors have access to five hours of court practice a day.
Mr Tiley also defended Djokovic, saying the star had written “a note – these weren’t demands – they were suggestions”.
“But he is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means,” he added.
While most players are being quarantined in Melbourne, Djokovic is part of a smaller group of big-name stars including Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka who are stationed in Adelaide for an exhibition match.
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