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The athletes are required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before qualifying to compete amid the ongoing pandemic

By Benjamin VanHoose
January 27, 2021 11:18 AM
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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams
Rafael Nadal (left) and Serena Williams
| Credit: Julian Finney/Getty; Stefanie Keenan/Getty

Tennis' top stars are applauding stricter COVID protocols put in place to allow the Australian Open to commence.

After arriving in Adelaide and Melbourne for the tournament, players must self-isolate and quarantine for 14 days. Speaking with CNN about some players being upset about the quarantine period and the inability to practice at length before the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal said the athletes should put their plights in perspective amid the ongoing pandemic.

"I feel very sorry for all of them, but when we came here, we knew that the measures were going to be strict because we knew that the country is doing great with the pandemic," said Nadal, 34. "It's normal to complain ... but on the other hand, you see how many are dying around the world. You see how many people are losing their father, their mom, without having the chance to say goodbye."

"It's a real thing, not a philosophical thing, that's real life," he added. "That's what's happening in my country [Spain]. Close people to me are suffering this situation."

Serena Williams also stressed the importance of the strict rules, saying during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that pandemic precautions so far have been "super, super strict, but it's really good."

"They're doing it right," she said, applauding Australia's handling of the pandemic.

Williams, 39, admitted the quarantine is "definitely hard" with her 3-year-old daughter Olympia inside the hotel all day, "but it's worth it because you want everyone to be safe."

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Earlier this month, 47 players slated to compete in the Australian Open were forced to quarantine after multiple passengers on two charter planes arriving in Australia tested positive for COVID. According to statements, the athletes aren't allowed to leave their hotel rooms for two weeks until they are medically cleared. The players will also not be eligible to practice during the quarantine period.

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All passengers were placed in quarantine hotels and the three positive cases were transferred to a health hotel.

Several of the players in quarantine reacted to the news on social media, sharing that a practice hiatus could affect their skills in the upcoming tournament. "I have no issues to stay 14 days in the room watching netflix. Believe me this is a dream come true, holiday even. What we cant do is COMPETE after we have stayed 14 days on a couch. This is the issue, not the quarantine rule," Romanian player Sorana Cirstea tweeted.

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