TA clarifies who pays Open quarantine bill

Tennis Australia has cleared up confusion over who is paying for Australian Open quarantine.
Tennis Australia has cleared up confusion over who is paying for Australian Open quarantine.

Tennis Australia has withdrawn tournament director Craig Tiley's suggestion the Victorian government is stumping up some of the costs to quarantine Australian Open arrivals.

In a statement on Wednesday, the tennis body clarified it was responsible for footing the expected $40 million bill to quarantine 1200 international players, support staff and officials in three Melbourne hotels.

"Tennis Australia is funding the AO quarantine program," it said.

Mr Tiley, who is also Tennis Australia's chief executive, had earlier indicated taxpayers would partially subsidise some of the hotel quarantine costs associated with the grand slam.

"Yes, absolutely," he told 3AW, when asked if the state government was helping to foot the quarantine bill.

"The state government are supporting and assisting us with that."

But Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville insisted he was mistaken, having "triple checked" after seeing his comments.

"I want to be very clear - hotel quarantine is fully funded by Tennis Australia," she said.

"We do support the Australian Open as an event, as we do all major events, but that is separate to the hotel quarantine program."

The confusion came as four more people linked to the Open tested positive for coronavirus, including two players.

Ms Neville confirmed the new cases had been detected on Wednesday morning and would be included in Thursday's figures.

Authorities are "very confident" one of the cases is a tennis player who is shedding the virus and is not infectious, she said.

The player is already in hard lockdown as they were aboard a flight into Melbourne with another positive case, while the other two are a player and their support person.

With those cases under review and another reclassification, the number linked to the tournament remains at seven.

Three other COVID-19 cases were confirmed in hotel quarantine on Wednesday, two returned travellers and one linked to the Australian Open.

A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after being deemed close contacts of positive cases on three charter flights into Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Los Angeles.

Mr Tiley said 3200 tests have been conducted on the Open contingent and rebuked a "minority" of players who continue to complain about the conditions in hotel quarantine on social media.

"Culturally there's a different approach to how the virus is managed," Mr Tiley told ABC News.

Ms Neville agreed a handful of players were "making a lot of noise".

Asked about footage shared by Kazakh tennis player Yulia Putintseva of a mouse in her hotel room, the minister replied: "I think there may have been some feeding going on".

"I just encourage them to minimise interaction with the mice, we will keep doing pest control if we need to."

Meanwhile, a woman who lives next door to an Australian Open hotel has complained about finding used PPE in her apartment foyer.

Sarah, who lives next door to the View hotel on St Kilda Rd, told the ABC that used face masks and gloves had blown into her apartment from overflowing biohazard bins.

A COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria spokeswoman said biohazard bins are stored and collected from the secure basement car park of the hotel with "no public access".

CCTV footage of the street is being reviewed to find the source of the discarded PPE, she said.

Ms Neville is adamant it isn't from the hotel.

Victoria has recorded no locally acquired coronavirus cases for two weeks, with 19,810 test results processed in the past 24 hours.

There are 34 active COVID-19 cases in the state, no increase from Tuesday.

Australian Associated Press