Andy Murray will be missing his chartered flight to Melbourne ahead of this year's Australian Open. He tested positive for the novel coronavirus in routine tests prior to departure, and is now in quarantine and is isolating at his home in London.
The former world number one's participation at the 2021 Australian Open is now in doubt, with the clock ticking before the event. The first Grand Slam of the year is scheduled to start on February 8. It has already been pushed back by three weeks due to issues brought about by the pandemic, but event organisers are doing everything they can to safely shuttle participants safely into Melbourne.
BBC reports that the Australian Open has chartered 15 flights that would be operating at 25% capacity. Murray and other participants are meant to catch one of these flights to make their way to Australia. However, they must test negative before being allowed to board.
Upon arrival, passengers will undergo more tests during their 14-day quarantine period.
Technically, Murray still has enough time to make it to Melbourne if he recovers in the next few days, returns a negative COVID-19 test and satisfies all the health and safety requirements of Australian authorities. He must be able to arrive in Australia with enough time to complete his two-week mandatory quarantine.
However, as of now, he won't be allowed in the country. Victorian state health minister Martin Foley said, "Should Mr. Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else. Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused."
It would have been a bittersweet appearance at the Australian Open for Murray, who announced two years ago after being eliminated in Melbourne that he was set to undergo a hip resurfacing surgery which might end his career.
He has since recovered and is slowly working his way back up the rankings. However, this latest setback is a big blow for his comeback.
Nevertheless, Murray is believed to be in good health despite his COVID-19 diagnosis.