Rafael Nadal feels tennis players are privileged to be able to compete at the Australian Open during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged fellow participants to have a wider perspective of the strict health measures in the country.
About 1,200 participants were allowed to fly to Australia for the summer of tennis as thousands of its citizens are unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
Players are serving 14 days of isolation during which they are allowed five hours outside their rooms each day to train for the year’s first Grand Slam, which has been delayed by three weeks and will be played from Feb. 8-21.
But 72 players have been confined to their rooms after passengers on the charter flights that carried them to Australia tested positive to the virus.
Nadal, along with top players like Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, is isolating in Adelaide and said he felt “very sorry” for those in hard isolation.
“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,” the Spaniard told CNN.
“It’s normal to complain in some way but on the other hand when you have little bit wider perspective of what’s going on … you see how many are dying around the world.
“You see how many people are losing their father, their mum, without having the chance to say goodbye. It’s a real thing, that’s what’s happening in my country for example. Close people to me are suffering this situation.”
Australia has recorded more than 22,000 cases and 909 deaths from the novel coronavirus. It had no new local cases for the 10th straight day on Wednesday.
After the 14-day isolation, players will be allowed to train normally and then compete at tune-up events next week.
“The world is suffering in general, so we can’t complain,” Nadal added. “You have to stay a little more positive. I feel that we are privileged people today, having the chance to keep doing our jobs.”
Organisers also received backing from 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams, who has travelled to Australia with three-year-old daughter Olympia.
“It’s super, super strict, but it’s really good,” she said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
“It’s insane and super intense but it’s super good because after that you can have a new normal like we were used to this time last year in the United States.
“It’s definitely hard with a three-year-old to be in the hotel all day, but it’s worth it because you want everyone to be safe at the end of the day.”