The Montreal National Bank Open is not immune from the same backlash as Wimbledon, which saw two of its favorites give up before they even hit their first ball of the tournament, suffering from COVID-19.
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Italian Matteo Berrettini, finalist last year on English grass, and Croatian Marin Cilic, champion of the United States Open in 2014, have both tested positive for the virus in the last few days.
In the case of Berrettini, eighth favorite at the All England Club, it was he who decided to take the test, AFP reported on Tuesday. The protocol that required players to be tested at a certain frequency disappeared at Wimbledon.
Like in Montreal
It will be the same in Montreal from August 6, explains Richard Quirion, Tournament Director at Tennis Canada, who follows the recommendations of Public Health.
Are we sure that a Rafael Nadal, for example, exhibits symptoms, undergoes the test and receives a positive result that forces him to withdraw from the tournament? Of course we think about it, ”says Mr. Quirion.
But he still believes his stress level will be much lower than last tournament when he was struggling to sleep.
In 2021 the rules relating to the presentation of the National Bank Open were very strict. The players were tested every three days. They all resided in the same hotel, closed to the public.
The director received daily the results of the tests that had been carried out the day before. One morning, the computer showed a positive result, which ultimately turned out to be wrong (a false positive). His heart then made three laps.
But in the end, only one player – whose identity was never revealed – contracted COVID-19. It was during qualifying and he spent the next 14 days in solitary confinement.
Trust in good faith
This year, with the end of systematic testing, Mr. Quirion recognizes that it will be necessary to rely on the “good faith” of the players and all the staff working during the tournament.
He has ordered hundreds of quick tests, which can be delivered to the hotel to players who request them after showing symptoms.
A nurse was also hired to test athletes who feel sick while they were at IGA Stadium. You will have in your possession rapid tests and PCR tests.
These will be for the purpose of cross-checking a positive result. For example, “in the case of a player who would have made it to the quarter-finals, to make sure that he actually contracted the virus and that these are not the remnants of a recent contamination,” explains M Quirion.
Because a positive test will lead, as everywhere, to isolation for at least five days, which at the same time would eliminate the player.
Employees who will provide health care to athletes – such as physical therapists – will wear a face mask. They will be the only ones obliged to do so.
Surfaces will also be disinfected frequently. Tournament drivers will be encouraged to drive with the windows open to reduce the risk of spread.
Still without Djokovic
In addition, all participants must be properly vaccinated, as it is mandatory to enter Canada.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced that the current rules for travelers will be in effect until at least the end of September.
This means that Serbian Novak Djokovic, second in the world, will not play in the metropolis of Quebec, unless Canada reviews this obligation for professional athletes in the meantime.