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Local News - Victoria

Dozens of refugees released from hotel detention


The federal government has not yet released an official statement but told The Age in December: “In line with Australian government policy, no one under regional processing arrangements will be settled in Australia”.

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar at the Mantra Hotel in Preston.

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar at the Mantra Hotel in Preston.Credit:Luis Ascui

An Asylum Seeker Resource Centre spokeswoman said it “has heard from the people still detained at the Park Hotel that 34 more have been told they will receive visas and be released tomorrow”.

The refugees’ freedom comes after a long campaign that culminated in angry protests at their former location, the Mantra Hotel, when hundreds of police, including dozens of mounted police, responded to strong opposition outside the hotel’s gates in Bell Street, Preston.

Refugee Mostafa “Moz” Azimitabar, who is housed at the Park Hotel in Swanston Street and watched some of the 26 leave, said if one detainee could be freed, all 60 should be.

“I am very happy for these people who got their freedom,” Mr Azimitabar said, “But the way we’re all treated is very sad, very unfair.

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“There is no fresh air, no windows, only glass. Instead of seeing a tree, or a view inside the city or a flower, we are watching a cement wall. It’s exactly like a coffin.”

For more than a year, the men had been detained in rooms on the third floor at the Mantra after being evacuated from Manus Island to receive medical treatment under the now-repealed medevac legislation.

The men are suffering a range of conditions, most commonly depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The federal government’s contract with Mantra expired on December 31, as The Age revealed earlier this month.

Before their evacuation to Melbourne the men had been detained for up to seven years on Manus Island.

A handful of men were released on bridging visas from the Mantra and the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre in Broadmeadows in December.

People protest outside the Park Hotel in December.

People protest outside the Park Hotel in December.Credit:Jason South

The ASRC’s director of advocacy and campaigns, Jana Favero, called on the Morrison government to release the remaining 140 people being held in mainland detention who were transferred under medevac laws.

“Doctors, lawyers, service providers and the wider community have called for the release of medevac refugees from harmful conditions in indefinite detention and today the federal government finally is listening to reason,” she said.

The Australian Border Force has been approached for comment.

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Australian News

Two Australian Open tennis players test positive but may not have active coronavirus infections, Police Minister says



Ten positive COVID-19 tests have now been recorded among people who have flown to Melbourne for the Australian Open tennis tournament, including two players whose results were confirmed today.

Victoria’s Police Minister, Lisa Neville, said one of those new cases was a player who is in hard lockdown, and authorities believe their infection is not active, but shedding.

Ms Neville said another player and one of their support team have also tested positive and are unable to train until authorities can determine the status of their infections.

“In the meantime, the player, the support person and their bubble — so the other support person and player they’re with — will not be training until we have a final confirmation that they are shedding or that they are positive,” she said.

If they are positive, the player and their support person will go into the health hotel and their training partner and their support person will enter a hard quarantine as close contacts of a confirmed case, Ms Neville said.

The three new cases whose test results were received by the Victorian Government today will be reported in the official coronavirus numbers tomorrow, Ms Neville said.

Earlier, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the hotel quarantine system was working well.

“We’re in our sixth day and so far our numbers have been extremely low and if they are active cases they go straight to the medi-hotel,” he said.

Paramedics this morning responded to a medical emergency at the View Hotel, where many tennis players have been quarantined.

Ambulance Victoria said one person was taken to hospital in a stable condition, but did not reveal whether the person was connected to the tennis.

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Player complaints still occupying Tennis Australia’s time

Tennis Australia has devoted considerable time to dealing with a vocal minority of players who have continued to complain about conditions in hotel quarantine.

Spanish player Roberto Bautista Agut issued an apology after he likened conditions in quarantine to being in jail, in a video he said was released without his consent.

In the video, Bautista Agut was critical of the Victorian Government, saying the quarantine arrangements were “a complete disaster”.

He later issued a statement saying it was a private conversation taken out of context and released to the media without his knowledge.

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Russian player Yulia Putintseva drew criticism yesterday for an Instagram post in which she was seen holding a protest sign in her hotel room.

Putintseva later continued to complain about cleanliness standards, posting videos of mice in her hotel room.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said Ms Putintseva was moved to a different room in the hotel, and she understood the player had been feeding the mouse.

“We don’t send cleaners into those rooms … so every tennis player needs to clean their own room and change their own bed if they want to do that,” she said.

“I’d just encourage them to minimise interaction with the mice, we will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”

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Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia had to remind players that their complaints may not be well received in Melbourne.

“We’re doing the best we can to ask the players to be respectful of the Victorian community, who’ve been through a really tough time over four months of a lockdown, and paid significant prices in loss of life and also in jobs,” he said.

“It’s just one of those environments that we have to every single day talk to the players and ask them to respect that position.

“I believe the majority of them are, it’s just a select few that are not there yet.”

British player Johanna Konta spoke up during a conference call with hundreds of players earlier this week, urging them to be mindful of local sentiment and keep their complaints private.

She told Channel Nine that emotions were running high during the first few days of quarantine, and players were simply anxious about how they would perform after two weeks in a hotel room.

“A big part of that frustration for these players will be how well will they be able to perform and I think that just comes along with being a professional athlete and sometimes rationale doesn’t come into it,” she said.

“The reason we are here is to put on a show for the people of Australia, the people of Melbourne, and also the world stage.”

Quarantine bill to be paid in full by Tennis Australia

Ms Neville estimated the cost of quarantining players ahead of the Australian Open would run into the tens of millions of dollars, and said the bill would not be paid by the Government.

Earlier today, Mr Tiley suggested to Melbourne radio station 3AW that the Victorian Government would help out with quarantine costs, but could not say how much they would contribute.

“Well that’s still to be determined — perhaps next week or the week after we’ll know that, whatever the quarantine costs end up being,” he said.

Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia had exhausted its $80 million dollar cash reserve and had taken out a loan to fund the costs associated with player flights and hotel quarantine, but Ms Neville said his claims about taxpayers funding part of the bill were not correct.

“Hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia. I’ve triple-confirmed that again today [after seeing that information], it is fully funded by the Australian Open,” she said.

She said while the Government supported the Australian Open “as an event”, as it does with all big events, the additional cost of the quarantine arrangements was being funded by Tennis Australia.

“The taxpayer is not contributing to the [Australian Open] hotel quarantine program,” she said.

Tennis Australia is yet to reveal whether allowances will be made in its schedule for the 72 players in hard quarantine, but Mr Tiley hinted that could be a possibility.

“I think how we can adjust is what happens in the lead-in events, how many lead-in events we have and when we start and what the schedule is for those players who need more time,” he said.



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Australian News

Manly star to face two-day hearing over alleged pizza shop assault


NRL star Dylan Walker will defend himself over allegations he assaulted two men outside a pizza shop on Sydney’s northern beaches at a court hearing later this year.

Up to 20 witnesses are expected to be called in the Manly player’s case when it comes before the Downing Centre Local Court in May.

Mr Walker, 26, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of common assault after he was charged over the incident outside Little Italy Pizzeria on May Road, Narraweena on November 1.

Police were called to the scene following reports of a fight between the “aggressive” outside back and two restaurant staff.

NSW Police said in a statement the confrontation occurred when Mr Walker left the pizza shop and tried to enter the vehicle of a woman, who was unknown to him, parked outside.

“When confronted, the man allegedly became aggressive and was allegedly involved in a physical altercation, assaulting two men before fleeing,” the police statement said.

Mr Walker was arrested a short time later and was granted conditional bail after being charged.

The footballer did not appear in court on Wednesday as dates were set for his two-day hearing, set to proceed on May 14 and 17.

The court was told there would be up to 17 police witnesses called to give evidence, while Mr Walker’s defence could also call a small number of witnesses.

Under his bail conditions Mr Walker must abstain from drugs and alcohol and not go within 50m of the pizza shop.

His matter will return to court on April 23.



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Australian News

India’s glorious summer in Australia reminiscent of the West Indies in 1960-61 — they deserve the same fanfare


In the history of cricket in Australia, the 1960–61 tour by the West Indies stands out like a beacon.

Australia won that five-match series 60 years ago 2-1, but the West Indies captured the hearts and minds of the country.

The tour was unique in so many ways, not least that it was the first West Indian team to be captained by a black man, Frank Worrell, but also for the enormous goodwill that emerged between the two sides.

At least 90,000 spectators turned up for the first day of the fifth Test.

After Australia won it by two wickets, Worrell presented Australian captain Richie Benaud with his cap, tie and blazer, along with the comments “I give Richie my scalp, my neck and my body”.

Thousands of spectators below the balcony of the MCG members broke into For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.

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Days later, tens of thousands of Melbournians lined the city streets 10-deep as the West Indies were given a motorcade send-off for a series that was said to have rescued cricket.

Worrell later said “the traffic was literally stopped…people were to be seen lining the streets, leaning out of windows three or four storeys up”.

“They Lost the Series — But They Won Australia” read the Daily Telegraph’s front-page headline on the report of the motorcade.

Sixty years later, in these strange COVID times, how different is it for an Indian team — that has risen above all barriers to win the Test series 2-1 — which will quietly slip out of the country today with little fanfare.

It seems wrong for a team that has pulled off what Sambit Bal writing for Cricinfo called “the greatest moment in India’s Test history” by retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Just imagine the send-off they would have received in a COVID-free world if they could have been driven in open-top cars through the streets of Sydney or Melbourne with their huge Indian populations of adoring fans.

India's Rishabh Pant raises his arm as he runs while celebrating the winning runs against Australia.
Rishabh Pant’s innings steered India to an unlikely win in Brisbane.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

At least they got a lap of honour in front of a scattered but raucous crowd of supporters at the Gabba to soak up the significance of their stunning three-wicket win and series comeback, after getting rolled for just 36 runs to lose the first Test in Adelaide.

It’s fitting that Brisbane was the venue for their extraordinary series win, the same venue that hosted the famous tied Test between the West Indies and Australia on that historic tour 60 years ago.

And how fitting that India’s stand-in captain, Ajinkya Rahane, presented Nathan Lyon with a jersey signed by the Indian team to mark his 100th Test, in a gesture that harked back to Worrell’s gift to Benaud.

It was a gracious act by a gracious team — one that differs in so many ways from those that have come before.

Indian teams loaded with superstars like Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh have come to this country and failed.

This side came back against all odds without the one player who sits in the same pantheon of those former Indian greats, captain Virat Kohli.

Those sides from the early 2000s played with a feistiness. They were the new India, no longer bound by their colonial past.

This side stands on their shoulders without the need to prove anything beyond their ability and grittiness on the cricket field.

India players and support staff embrace as they celebrate beating Australia in the fourth Test in Brisbane.
India’s series win has been labelled one of the greatest of all time.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

And they do so with confidence and youth — a reflection of modern India and modern times.

Mohammed Siraj called out racist comments in just his second Test match, an act hard to imagine in years gone by.

“A new India emerged Down Under — resilient and ambitious” Ashutosh Sharma wrote in India’s Outlook magazine.

“This was arguably India’s greatest Test win overseas and definitely their finest series victory ever,” wrote Partha Bhaduri in the Times of India.

“They believed, obstinately and vehemently.”

“Young India is showing is showing they are not afraid,” said former captain and Indian Test legend Sunil Gavaskar.

This side won the trophy named in Gavaskar’s honour along with Australia’s Allan Border with an astonishing mix of skill, tenacity, courage and yes, belief.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara screams in pain as teammate Ajinkya Rahane watches on.
Cheteshwar Pujara was at his resilient best in Brisbane, and lead from the front all series.(AP: Tertius Pickard)

It’s at times like these that superlatives flow and yet they don’t seem to do justice to explain what we all witnessed — a so-called second-string side coming back from an embarrassing defeat and suffering a shocking series of injuries to beat one of the strongest sides in world cricket on their home soil during a global pandemic.

Just three players from that losing first Test side played in the Brisbane Test and only two, Rahane and the mighty warrior Cheteshwar Pujara, played in all four.

They won without six of their first-choice bowlers — the attack went into the fourth Test with just four matches and 11 wickets between them.

It’s been asked before, but worth repeating: how would an Australian side fare in India without Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood and Lyon?

Those players and the rest of the Australian team will now have to lick their wounds as they prepare for a tour of South Africa and find a means to regain their mojo.

But this isn’t their time.

This time belongs to India, a team that has created one of the great Test series that will live in the memory like the West Indies in 1960-61.

They deserve a motorcade.



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Local News - Victoria

Mythical creatures land in city streets as Royal Children’s Hospital marks 150 years


One hundred UooUoos, an imaginary cross between a wombat and a dugong, have alighted on beaches, parks, laneways and landmarks across Melbourne and Geelong.

The colourful mythical creatures, each designed by a Victorian artist, have arrived in the two cities as part of an art trail to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Children’s Hospital.

UooUoonicorn by Fiona Tweddle and Janie Fearon in Federation Square.

UooUoonicorn by Fiona Tweddle and Janie Fearon in Federation Square. Credit:Wayne Taylor

Melbourne artist Justine Millsom, also known as Juzpop, titled her rose- and dragonfly-adorned UooUoo (pronounced you-you), which has taken up residence at Royal Park’s nature play playground, Tammy’s Donor.

Her cousin Tammy Cipriano, who was born with cystic fibrosis, had her life saved seven years ago when a donor was found for her double lung transplant. The condition is often referred to as “65 roses”.



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Australian News

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson facing coronavirus restrictions and Tokyo Olympics uncertainty as he steps into job


New Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson is preparing to face a series of unique challenges as he takes charge of Australia’s women’s national team in the midst of a global pandemic and with the future of the Tokyo Olympics still uncertain.

Gustavsson formally began his role earlier this month and has spoken with his players and staff online, but is yet to find out when his squad will be able to gather for the first time.

At the moment, the Swede is still preparing as if the Olympics Games will go ahead in July and August this year. If they do, it will be the Matildas’ first major tournament under their new coach.

Time is of the essence then for Gustavsson, who says he plans to make the most of every single minute he gets with his players.

“Obviously as a new coach and a coach in general, I would love to meet the team and meet the players. As a national team coach you always think you don’t have enough time, you want to have more days and more games,” Gustavsson said.

“It’s always challenging even in normal circumstances. Then with a pandemic going on, it’s difficult to get together and you get less time.

“I’ve tried to look at it this way, and this is how I’m wired as a person — I’m always trying to look at the possibilities.

“So instead of looking at it like we lose time, we need to make use of time. Meaning, we need to think differently now, maybe think outside of the box a little bit. So if we can’t get together physically, is there anything else we can do to gel and connect?

“This is a team that the majority of players have played together for a long time, so there’s already a camaraderie and togetherness and understanding with each other.”

A footballer with her back to camera celebrates a goal with teammates in Olympic football qualifier.
The Matildas have not played a game since March 2020.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

Gustavsson has signed a four-year contract, which will take him beyond the 2023 Women’s World Cup, to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

This then is the start of the Matildas’ journey to that tournament and Gustavsson says he is no doubt that he wants to start that journey in style.

“And it’s easy to just look at the rankings and see who we want to play. We want as tough of a schedule as possible, even if it means it is challenging and there are difficulties for me coming in as a new coach.”

An assistant coach leans over the sideline to shout instructions to womens' football players.
Tony Gustavsson during his time on the coaching staff of the USWNT.(Reuters: Michael Chow)

Gustavsson is still in Sweden but, depending on the pandemic, he is hoping to live in Australia “from mid-next year”.

He says he has been following the new W-League season from afar — though not to the extent he would like.

“It might sound like I haven’t watched anything — I’ve watched a lot — but as a coach you want to watch everything. I’m always going to feel like I haven’t watched enough,” he said.

“We have to show respect for what the league has done for the Matildas. In that sense, the W-League is very, very, very important for us.

“It’s a fantastic platform for young players to get exposed to games.”

A projected image in the sydney opera house of blue and green confetti falling behind Sam Kerr mid-backflip
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.(Twitter: The Matildas)

For Gustavsson, who has previously been an assistant coach for the all-conquering US Women’s National Team, distance could prove to be a blessing because he can assess his squad without any preconceived ideas or judgements.

But already, Gustavsson says, he can see similarities between his Matildas players and the two-time World-Cup-winning Americans.

“I’ve had very little time now to get up to speed, so what I’ve told the players is that I want everyone to feel like it’s a blank paper, and the coach will look with fresh eyes and will give everyone a chance to showcase themselves.

“If I say, ‘We are short here,’ or, ‘We need to look here,’ I might be blinded to what I am watching. So I want to really open up and see from my end what I think about the roster.

“When I look at the Matildas and when I spoke to the players, I sensed some similarities between the teams [Matildas and USWNT] in terms of that passion and drive and attitude and fearlessness to step on the field.

“With that attitude that we can beat anyone.

“What stands out for me is the passion they have for their country and how proud they are to play for the Matildas.”



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Tennis Australia to fund hotel quarantine, vic govt says


The Victorian government has rejected Tennis Australia’s claim that taxpayers will be footing part of the bill for Australian Open hotel quarantine.

Police Minister Lisa Neville, who is overseeing hotel quarantine, said the bill would instead be “sent straight back to Tennis Australia” after CEO Craig Tiley’s earlier remarks on Wednesday that the government would “absolutely” pay for part of the Aussie Open quarantine program.

I did see Craig Tyler‘s comments, but I want to be very clear that hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’ve triple confirmed that again today.”

Ms Neville said plans for the state government to pay for the quarantine scheme had never been a part of pre-tournament negotiations.

“We are asking, for example, Australians who returned to contribute to the hotel quarantine costs, so it seemed appropriate to us that also tennis players, or the association, should contribute to their hotel costs,” she said.

About 1200 players and staff who are in Australia for the tournament are completing 14-day stays at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne, the View on St Kilda Road, and the Pullman hotel in Albert Park.

Mr Tiley earlier on Wednesday said quarantining players and staff would cost more than $40 million, with the state government “absolutely” chipping in.

But he did not know how much the government contribution would be.

“That’s still to be determined because we’re still in the middle of that. Probably the end of next week or the week after we’ll know exactly,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“These quarantining costs are new costs. The state government is supporting us in that.”

Three more people associated with the Australian Open returned positive coronavirus results on Wednesday morning.

Among them was a player believed to not be infectious but shedding the virus. They will still be required to lockdown.

It brings the total number of positive COVID-19 cases associated with the Australian Open to 10.

The tournament is scheduled to start on February 8.



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US dollar weaponisation to continue after Donald Trump is gone


It isn’t surprising that both those directly targeted by the US sanctions – countries like China and Russia – and other third parties are all pursuing mechanisms for circumventing them.

China is promoting its own currency in its trade deals, particularly within Asia, along with an ambitious schedule for an imminent launch of a digital renminbi. China and Russia have been trying to use their own currencies in their direct trades – last year was the first time dollar-denominated trade between them fell below 50 per cent.

The Europeans were side-swiped by one of the earliest decisions of the Trump administration.

With the Obama administration, they had signed up to the Iran nuclear deal in 2012, in which US sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for constraints on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Trump, unilaterally, took the US out of that deal and reimposed the sanctions.

The power of US sanctions lies in the dollar and the financial system infrastructure that facilitates its global usage – the SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication) secure messaging platform that enables financial institutions to send, receive, track and confirm transactions.

SWIFT is a co-operative controlled by about 3500 international banks (the Australian banks are represented on its board) and is arguably the key piece of global financial system architecture.

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In response to the abrupt US change in stance towards Iran and its impact on Europe and European companies – they would be in breach of the sanctions and risk being sanctioned themselves and cut out of SWIFT and the global financial system if they continued to trade with Iran – the Europeans tried to develop a workaround.

The major European Union members created a special purpose vehicle, INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to try to facilitate non-US dollar, non-SWIFT humanitarian transactions with Iran.

It was a clunky solution, more of a bartering platform than a SWIFT alternative. It allows buyers and sellers in Iranian transactions to be matched – Iranian companies or individuals in Iran and Europeans in Europe – and their deals netted off and settled in their own countries without any cross-border flows. It hasn’t been particularly popular.

The Iranian experience and US threats of sanctions – including threats against businesses working on or financing the Russian-sponsored Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany that included the prospect of “crushing” sanctions of a German port that was the logistical hub for the project – caused the Europeans to think more deeply about their vulnerability to the power of the dollar.

Earlier this week the Financial Times reported (and other mastheads subsequently confirmed) that there is a draft of a European Commission policy paper that refers to the difficulty of the EU asserting its independence and using the Iranian experience to argue for measures to shield the EU from the effects of “unlawful extraterritorial application” of US sanctions.

The efforts of China, Russia and the EU to reduce the extent of the US dollar’s dominance have gained momentum, thanks to the Trump administration.

The US sanctions not only impacted SWIFT but also European clearance and settlements platforms for domestic and international bonds, equities and derivatives so it isn’t at all surprising that the EU is searching for structural insulation from the threat of being caught up in future US sanctions.

Promotion of a greater use of the euro to settle transactions between European companies in traditionally US-dollar denominated trades, like commodities, and a shift from using US dollars in financial benchmarks to euros are among the paths being explored.

Network effects – the more the dollar is used in international transactions the more companies, individuals and countries have to use it – make any attempt to undermine the dollar’s reserve currency status problematic but the efforts of China, Russia and the EU to reduce the extent of its dominance have gained momentum, thanks to the Trump administration.

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Longer term, the incentive for countries other than the US to develop something along the lines of the multi-polar digital currency advocated by former Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, will only increase.

It’s not just the sanctions. Dollar dominance reduces the economic and financial independence of economies and the sovereignty of nations. It reduces their flexibility to respond to their own circumstances and, for those with free-floating currencies, can generate external shocks and destabilisation that are difficult to respond to.

If there were a global, or at least international, digital currency with credibility sponsored by the key non-US central banks the dollar’s dominance would be reduced, along with the extraterritorial power and coercive influence of the US.

The resentment, particularly in Europe, of the dollar’s status – it is disproportionate to America’s actual scale in global trade and economic activity – and the consequent under-representation of the euro in global activity relative to the size of the eurozone, existed before Trump’s presidency.

The past four years, with Trump’s trade wars, threats and sanctions on even America’s traditional allies have, however, stressed and perhaps even broken the trans-Atlantic relationship and provided new and more powerful motivation for China, the EU and other economies to reduce their exposure to the dollar and undermine its dominance.

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Australian Open boss Craig Tiley says no player has an active COVID-19 infection



There are no active coronavirus cases among tennis players in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open, according to tournament director Craig Tiley.

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services said two people who had tested positive had been reclassified as cases of viral shedding.

Mr Tiley said 3,200 tests were conducted on people who flew into Melbourne to be involved in the Australian Open in some capacity, and six of those people were considered active cases.

“We’re in our sixth day and so far our numbers have been extremely low and if they are active cases they go straight to the medi-hotel,” he said.

Paramedics this morning responded to a medical emergency at the View Hotel, where many tennis players have been quarantined.

Ambulance Victoria said one person was taken to hospital in a stable condition, but did not reveal whether the person was connected to the tennis.

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Tennis Australia has devoted considerable time to dealing with a vocal minority of players who have continued to complain about conditions in hotel quarantine.

Spanish player Roberto Bautista Agut issued an apology after he likened conditions in quarantine to being in jail, in a video he said was released without his consent.

In the video, Bautista Agut was critical of the Victorian Government, saying the quarantine arrangements were “a complete disaster”.

He later issued a statement saying it was a private conversation taken out of context and released to the media without his knowledge.

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Russian player Yulia Putintseva drew criticism yesterday for an Instagram post in which she was seen holding a protest sign in her hotel room.

Putintseva later continued to complain about cleanliness standards, posting videos of mice in her hotel room.

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Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia had to remind players that their complaints may not be well received in Melbourne.

“We’re doing the best we can to ask the players to be respectful of the Victorian community, who’ve been through a really tough time over four months of a lockdown, and paid significant prices in loss of life and also in jobs,” he said.

“It’s just one of those environments that we have to every single day talk to the players and ask them to respect that position.

“I believe the majority of them are, it’s just a select few that are not there yet.”

British player Johanna Konta spoke up during a conference call with hundreds of players earlier this week, urging them to be mindful of local sentiment and keep their complaints private.

She told Channel Nine that emotions were running high during the first few days of quarantine, and players were simply anxious about how they would perform after two weeks in a hotel room.

“A big part of that frustration for these players will be how well will they be able to perform and I think that just comes along with being a professional athlete and sometimes rationale doesn’t come into it,” she said.

“The reason we are here is to put on a show for the people of Australia, the people of Melbourne, and also the world stage.”

Tennis Australia is yet to reveal whether allowances will be made in its schedule for the 72 players in hard quarantine, but Mr Tiley hinted that could be a possibility.

“I think how we can adjust is what happens in the lead-in events, how many lead-in events we have and when we start and what the schedule is for those players who need more time,” he said.



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Three new COVID-19 cases linked to Australian Open as government insists it’s not footing quarantine bill


“I’m aware of these figures and I wanted to share them with you because there’s been a lot of debate about how many people we have in the Australian Open who are positive,” she said. “This morning we became aware of three more positives.”

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The three additional cases will be included in Thursday’s official figures.

Ms Neville said two cases are players, including one who is strongly suspected of shedding the virus and is already in lockdown because they arrived on a flight with another positive case.

The second player and their support person who returned positive swabs will not be allowed outside their hotel rooms while the Department of Health and Human Services reviews their test results to determine whether they are also shedding the virus.

“In the meantime though, the player and the support person … will not be training until we have final confirmation they are either shedding [the virus] or that they are positive,” Ms Neville said.

“If they are positive those two will go into the health hotel and the two bubble people will be considered close contacts and will be in lockdown for the 14 days.”

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday morning the bill for the quarantine program is expected to top $40 million and will be partially paid by the Victorian government.

That was strongly disputed by Ms Neville.

“I want to be really clear about this,” she said, “hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia, I’ve triple confirmed that again today.

“I think you know we are asking, for example, Australians returning [home] to contribute to their hotel quarantining costs … so it is appropriate that Tennis Australia similarly do that.”

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Premier Daniel Andrews has also been forced to defend the outsourcing of testing and health checks of players and staff to a private contractor involved in the St Basil’s nursing home outbreak, which led to the deaths of 45 residents.

Mr Andrews said Aspen Medical was more than capable of doing the work and it would prevent a drain of public hospital staff.

On Tuesday, Mr Tiley contradicted Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s report that two players were among cases of COVID-19 connected to the tournament.

In a health department update just before 5pm, Professor Sutton specified that the new cases “involve two players”.

But Mr Tiley appeared to dispute this, stating “none of them are players”. He suggested some players had cases of viral shedding, as opposed to being actively infectious.

Players including Roberto Bautista Agut and Yulia Putintseva compared life in lockdown to prison, with the latter saying: “In jail, at least you can breathe fresh air two times a day.” Bautista Agut later issued an apology, labelling Australia’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus as “admirable”.

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