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The Victorian government is being accused of double standards, welcoming more than 1,000 tennis players and officials ahead of the Australian Open, even though its own overseas residents and the interstate are unable to get home.

Around 1,200 elite international players and their support staff will arrive in Melbourne to begin their 14 days. coronavirus quarantines before the tournament on February 8.

Hundreds have already arrived since Thursday, flying on chartered flights organized by the Australian Open.

The world’s No. 2 player Rafael Nadal arrived in Australia and went into hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open on February 8. (9News)
There are still more than 37,000 Australians stranded abroad and unable to get home, with 4,800 of those classified as “vulnerable.”
Bernard Tomic arrives in Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open. (9News)
A bus transports players and officials from the Australian Open to the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne, where they will spend 14 days in quarantine. (9News)

All Australian Open players and officials must return a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to Australia.

Two players, former world number one Andy Murray and Grand Slam finalist Madison Keys have already had to cancel their travel plans after returning positive tests.

The players will spend 14 days in three quarantine hotels in Melbourne, but will be allowed out for five hours each day to train.

Despite the strict measures, the move has drawn criticism from stranded Australians, as well as politicians, airline bosses and interstates.

Sydney and Brisbane continue to be designated as “red zones” under the Victorian government’s system of “traffic zones” to identify hot spots, despite both cities reporting several days without locally acquired cases.

Victoria’s strict border restrictions remain in effect, and anyone who has been to Sydney or Brisbane is barred from entering. (Jason Robins / Nine)

This means that all residents of those regions are barred from entering, unless granted a special exemption, leaving hundreds of Victorians unable to return home.

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas described the decision as “devastating”, saying it was strange to let in tennis players from countries where COVID-19 was running rampant, while Victoria’s interstate highways were stranded.

“Victoria’s approach to Sydney appears to be out of proportion to the actual risk,” Joyce said on Friday.

He said Qantas and its budget arm Jetstar had canceled nearly 3,000 flights between Melbourne and Sydney since the northern beaches outbreak caused borders to slam shut before Christmas.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has called Victoria’s current border restrictions devastating. (Louise Kennerley)

“Behind each of those canceled flights are many people whose plans have been launched into the air,” Joyce said.

New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance yesterday accused the Victorian government of inconsistency in its border restrictions.

“Against the backdrop of having an international event and trying to maintain normalcy – it’s okay,” Constance said.

“But I think this falls short is the inconsistency in their decision making.

“Through 2021, we need consistency around the trigger points these state restrictions are going to have or else it will just destroy jobs.”

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