While north Queensland has escaped the wrath of ex-tropical cyclone Kimi, the Bureau of Meteorology is warning Mother Nature hasn’t “turned the tap off yet” with the chance of another cyclone forming in the next week.
It come as authorities plead to Queenslanders not to drive through floodwaters after 15 swift water rescues were performed following heavy rainfall overnight.
Ex-tropical cyclone Kimi weakened in the early hours of Tuesday to a tropical low and moved offshore, allaying fears it could bring winds of up to 150km/h when it reached land.
The system was originally expected to cross the coast near Lucinda as a category 2 system but turned southeast instead and weakened to a tropical low 135km northeast of Townsville about 4am on Tuesday.
The cyclone warning zone has been cancelled between Lucinda to Bowen; however, the BOM warns winds of up to 65km/h, with gusts of up to 95km/h, and heavy rainfall are still likely.
“The system is expected to remain slow moving well off the coast through much of today, then begin tracking back towards the north-northwest from late this afternoon as a weak tropical low,” the bureau said at 4am.
High tides are expected between Bowen and Lucinda, but the BOM said the sea level was not expected to approach the highest tide of the year.
Meteorologist David Grant said there was “early indication” another cyclone could form next week.
“We may see a renewed bust of the monsoon come across far north Queensland and into the Coral Sea over the course of this weekend and into next week,” he said.
“So be mindful that Mother Nature hasn’t quite turned the tap off yet.
“We may be talking about cyclones once again sometime in the next week or too.”
BOM forecaster Rosa Hoff said there was still a chance of heavy rain on the periphery of the system this week that could bring falls of between 20-50 mm between Innisfail and Proserpine.
“We won’t see the magnitude of rainfall that we would have if the system crossed the coast,” she said.
Speaking after a Queensland Disaster Management Committee meeting, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was still a flood watch that authorities would monitor over the coming days.
“It’s fantastic news that the cyclone watch has been cancelled,” she said.
Meanwhile, southeast Queensland copped a dumping overnight as severe thunderstorms threatened residents from Gympie to the Bayside.
In the Redlands, southeast of Brisbane, the rain gauge picked up 191mm between 9am on Monday and 6am on Tuesday, almost 100mm of which fell within 60 minutes.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Greg Leach said it was disappointing to see so many people ignore warnings.
“When you drive into floodwaters, not only do you put your own life at risk but also the lives of the rescuers who have to come and rescue you,” he said.
“Don’t drive through floodwaters, it’s extremely dangerous and comes at great risk to yourself.
“If it’s flooded, forget it. “
State disaster co-ordinator Steve Gollschewski said wet weather was expected for “a protracted period”.
“We are only in January in a La Nina year. People need to listen to the messaging,” he said.
“They need to do the right thing and stop putting themselves at risk.”
Heavy rain delayed play on the fourth day of the Gabba Test between Australia and India, and swift water rescuers were forced to winch at least 15 people from floodwaters.
Although the dangerous storm system has passed, Ms Hoff said there could be more rain on the way.
“We continue to have a chance of seeing storm development in the region today,” she said.
“We expect the showers to be lighter than yesterday, less than 20mm, but we could see as much as 40mm if a large storm does develop.”
Looking ahead, showers will clear off the coast in the days ahead; however, cloudy conditions and cooler temperatures will stick around until at least Thursday.
Reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP) Patrick Mahomes will be required to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol to play in this weekend’s AFC Conference Championship against Buffalo.
Kansas City will play the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game after the Chiefs defeated Cleveland 22-17
Tampa Bay will play Green Bay in the NFC Championship after the Buccaneers defeated New Orleans 30-20
Patrick Mahomes is expected to face the NFL’s concussion protocol after being forced from the field
Mahomes suffered the head knock in the third quarter of Kansas City’s win over the Cleveland Browns, putting his status for this weekend’s game in question.
He had been shredding the Browns most of the game, completing 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards with touchdowns on the ground and through the air and helping the Chiefs take a 19-3 lead at halftime.
They still led 19-10 after Baker Mayfield’s touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry early in the third quarter, and were on the move again near midfield.
But on third-and-1, the Chiefs decided to run an option play toward their sideline and Mahomes elected to keep the ball, ducking for the first-down yardage just as Browns linebacker Mack Wilson got him around the head.
Mahomes remained crumpled on the turf afterwards.
When he tried getting to his feet, his leg buckled and Mahomes nearly went down again.
It took the training staff to help him get to the blue tent on the sideline, and he emerged from that a few minutes later and jogged to the locker room.
In a matter of minutes, he had been ruled out with a concussion.
Mahomes had enough wits about him after the concussion to get a rather clever hashtag trending on Twitter.
“HenneThingIsPossible,” it read.
It was a reference to his backup, Chad Henne, who came on when Mahomes got hurt midway through the third quarter Sunday.
Henne pulled off two edge-of-your seat plays in the closing minutes, scrambling for 13 yards on third-and-14 before a fourth-down completion to Tyreek Hill, which allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock and preserve a 22-17 victory.
Mahomes faces concussion tests
Now, the question is whether Mahomes will be cleared to play the Bills in the AFC title game next Sunday.
He will have to pass the five-step concussion protocol mandated by the National Football League for head injuries in order to take the field.
If he doesn’t, the defending NFL champion Chiefs — who posted a league best record of 15-2 in the regular season — will go from Super Bowl favourites to underdogs against the Bills.
“He’s doing great right now, which is a real positive as we look at this. He passed all the deals he needed to pass and we’ll see where it goes from here,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game.
“I just talked to him and he’s doing good. We’ll see how he is tomorrow, but right now he’s feeling good.”
The concussion protocol mandates rest and recovery before increasing aerobic exercise, with players cleared only after cognitive and balance tests as well as an examination from an independent consultant.
Buccaneers to face Packers, as Brees ponders retirement
While the NFL sweats on the status of one of the game’s young superstar quarterbacks, two of the greatest quarterbacks of their generation will face off on Sunday following Tampa Bay’s 30-20 defeat of New Orleans.
Tom Brady booked a date with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Conference Championship by besting Brees and the Saints, despite New Orleans having beaten the Buccaneers twice in the regular season.
Over the course of their respective historic careers, Brees’ team had beaten Brady’s team in five of seven meetings.
But on Sunday, Brady threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third score as Brees threw three interceptions.
“I think our defence was the key to the game,” Brady said after the game.
“We were going up against a really good defence, and they challenged us. Their defence played really well, but our defence really balled and got the turnovers that we needed.
“We locked in and played a lot better than we did the first two games. The last times we played them, we had a lot of turnovers, and today they had the turnovers. That’s usually the story of football games.”
Brees, who turned 42 on Friday, very nearly retired after last season and might have played his last game Sunday.
“I’m going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season,” Brees said. “I’m going to think about a lot of things just like I did last year. I have no complaints, and I have no regrets.”
Rodgers and Brady will face against each other in the NFC Conference Championship for the first time, after Brady moved to Tampa Bay from the perennial AFC title threat New England Patriots in the offseason.
Brady is only one win away from another Super Bowl appearance and only two wins from claiming his seventh title ring.
NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory brought in about 1000 workers on charter flights who worked on farms while completing their 14-day quarantine last year, a system that federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has implored Victoria to replicate.
However, Mr Andrews ruled out using that model for the first time on Tuesday, saying Victoria did not have as many remote locations as other states.
“I think that the tyranny of distance in some parts of the country works really well, and you can have, perhaps, greater confidence that on-farm quarantine is in fact a quarantine away from people,” he said.
“We don’t think that necessarily works here. We think hotel quarantine is what has to happen.”
Beyond allowing 1120 Australians per week to fly into the state since early December, Victoria has been sluggish on quarantine arrangements since hotel quarantine lapses sparked the state’s second wave of coronavirus.
The state’s lack of a plan to support the agriculture sector has frustrated industry and the federal government. On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said this year Victoria would not be able to fly in a significant number of international students, a sector that contributes $8 billion to the state.
Mr Littleproud, who has repeatedly criticised Mr Andrews in the media in recent weeks, again lambasted the Premier for flagging an announcement on seasonal workers “soon”.
“He has ignored industry attempts to engage on this issue and now Victorian farmers are paying the price for Dan Andrews’ inaction,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano also lashed out at Mr Andrews, saying the government had overseen quarantine for tennis players while local growers were unable to hire migrant workers.
“Clearly he was able to work up a quarantine arrangement for the Australian Open,” she said.
Ms Germano said the federation had sent “letter after letter” to the state government with proposals and requesting the worker shortfall be addressed.
She said farmers were willing to pay up to $2500 per worker for their quarantine costs. The sector fears the absence of a foreign worker quarantine scheme in Victoria could have long-term consequences for the state’s farming sector.
“The problem is not going to go away any time soon because we know the international borders are not going to be reopening.”
Last year, the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance and Aspen Medical put forward a proposal for a quarantine facility in Mildura to host Pacific Island workers.
But on Tuesday, the alliance’s chief executive, Michael Rogers, said the sector was willing to discuss any “quarantine pathway” that would allow Pacific Island workers to return to Victorian farms.
“We don’t understand what the blockage is in Victoria,” he said. “What will it take for the Victorian government to support industry and work out a quarantine pathway?”
Mr Andrews said he was liaising with other state and territory leaders on the possibility of sharing quarantine arrangements for overseas workers, but it was “quite a complex matter”.
“And whomever you bring in, in whatever numbers, it has to be done safely,” he said.
He added that the federal government could tweak JobSeeker payments to better incentivise unemployed Australians to work on farms.
Independent Mildura MP Ali Cupper, whose electorate contains a number of horticultural industries dependent on seasonal workers, urged the state and federal governments to find common ground to resolve the issue.
She warned farmers faced a “huge economic hit” if foreign workers were barred from Victoria.
“One thing the federal government could do is provide healthcare professionals to travel to Vanuatu to conduct COVID-19 tests on potential travellers to Australia,” Ms Cupper said.
“This would give the Victorian government more safety assurances around the seasonal workers coming into the state, given the rate of testing in Vanuatu is relatively low.”
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Michael is a state political reporter for The Age.
Benjamin is The Age’s regional editor. He was previously state rounds reporter and has also covered education for The Age.
India has scored a famous victory in the Test series against Australia, chasing down 328 on the last day of the final game at the Gabba to win the series 2-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
A draw would have been enough to retain the trophy for India, after their historic series victory in 2018/19, but the impressive side went all out and charged home, scoring 51 off the last five overs to win.
Explosive wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who was not picked for the first game, hit the winning runs as he completed a match-winning 89.
Late hitting from Pant and debutant Washington Sundar (22 off 29) saw the depleted tourists home, ending Australia’s unbeaten streak at the ground, which lasted more than 32 years.
As evidence of the spare-parts nature of this team, the win was set up by 91 from rookie opener Shubman Gill, who also was not picked for the series opener and was playing in just his third Test, and veteran Cheteshwar Pujara, who held off the Australian attack with a masterful 56 off 211.
It marks the third straight series win against Australia for India, and two in a row on Australian soil.
The day started with a clear objective for Australia — 10 wickets to win the match. A fast start was imperative, and it took only a few overs for Australia to find the first breakthrough when Pat Cummins found the edge of Rohit Sharma’s bat to deliver Tim Paine a simple catch.
But if the hosts thought that first wicket would lead to an avalanche, they were sorely mistaken. Joining Gill at the crease was Pujara, and together the Indian pair set out to defy Australia for the rest of the session.
Pujara was resolute in defence, while Gill played the role of the cautious aggressor. The latter played some fantastic shots, most notably when he uppercut Mitchell Starc for six over third man in the last over of the session.
The solid but steady start brought India into the game, and they carried on in the same vein after lunch. Pujara copped a barrage of short balls and wore several of them on the body — and took a few more on the helmet — but refused to give his wicket away.
Meanwhile Gill continued his attack, and after taking Starc for 20 in one particularly poor over for the out of form quick, the young opener was on track for a first Test century.
His fine innings would fall just short of the milestone though, ended by an edge to Steve Smith at first slip off a relatively straight Nathan Lyon delivery.
That brought Ajinkya Rahane to the crease, and the captain looked to keep India’s momentum going with some assertive strokeplay and aggressive running between wickets.
He raced to 24, but was undone by a Cummins short ball which kept a little low. Rahane’s attempt at a ramp over the slips resulted in nothing more than a simple catch to Paine.
India rolled the dice and brought Pant to the crease early — a clear sign of intent — and he and a battered and bruised Pujara saw India to tea with Australia still needing seven wickets, and India 145 runs for victory.
It wouldn’t have taken long after the tea break for Australia to start getting the flashbacks from Sydney, as Pant and Pujara kept them at bay for over after over.
Australia lacked urgency, and its tactics were questionable for a team that needed to win the match, but India too looked to be taking its time and not chasing the win with the same purpose it had earlier in the day.
The last hope for the Aussies was the new ball, and in the hands of Cummins, it needed only two balls to provide another twist — Pujara was finally given out lbw, and a batsman’s review showed the ball was clipping the very top of the leg bail.
As the match headed into it’s last hour, Australia thought they had Mayank Agarwal caught behind and lost a review when DRS showed no edge, but disappointment quickly turned to elation for Cummins and Australia when Agarwal drove the next ball to Matthew Wade at cover.
Needing 63 to win off 13 overs, Pant was joined at the crease by debutant Sundar, fresh off a half-century in the first innings, and both boosted the run rate.
Sundar fell with the team needing just 10 runs to win, and Shardul Thakur followed suit with three runs left, but nothing could stop Pant and India’s charge to victory.
See how the day unfolded in our live blog.
Australia vs India: Fourth Test at the Gabba
By Dean Bilton
That’s all, folks!
Well that was something, wasn’t it? A day to remember, at the end of a series I think we’ll be talking about for many a year to come. And let’s not forget given everything else going on, we’re probably lucky we even got this series away at all. Good thing we did, hey?
I’m going to sign off the blog here, but there will be plenty more coverage on this incredible result to come. Thank you to everyone who has hopped on board during our cricket blogs during this series, be it for a quick check of the score or for a lengthy conversation during a rain delay. It’s always so much more fun watching the cricket with all of you, especially when the cricket is that good.
Until next time, from me, Jon, Dan and Simon, have a good one.
By Dean Bilton
Ajinkya Rahane speaks
It clearly means a lot. I don’t know how to describe this but I’m extremely proud of the boys.
We just wanted to get close, because we knew Rishabh and Mayank could do it later on.
Taking 20 wickets was the key, which is why we picked five bowlers. All credit to the bowlers, the way they handled the pressure was really good.
After Adelaide we didn’t discuss anything. We just wanted to play our game and show good character. We just wanted to express ourselves as a team. That was the key to the win for us.
Honestly it was hard work hearing Rahane over the top of the Indian fans in the Gabba, who are understandably going bonkers. Rahane signs off by thanking those fans, and by presenting Nathan Lyon with a signed jersey to commemorate his 100th Test match. Now that’s a cricket team right there.
By Dean Bilton
Tim Paine speaks
I’m completely disappointed. In the end we were completely outplayed by a better side in this series.
India turned up today and put their bodies on the line, they kept soldiering on. Full credit to them.
We’ll look back at this, but we have to look forward too because we’ve got a big series against South Africa coming up.
Our bowlers threw everything at them, tried their hearts out, but things didn’t go our way.
By Dean Bilton
Pat Cummins is man of the series
We were discussing this earlier, and there really was no clear stand out for this award, but four wickets today probably swung it in Pat’s favour late.
He really was fantastic across all four Tests. This Australian team has 99 problems, but Pat Cummins definitely isn’t one.
By Dean Bilton
Rishabh Pant is the man of the match
Well deserved. It’s insane to me that he wasn’t picked in Adelaide. He is a special cricketer, one whose rough times you simply have to take because you will eventually get days like today.
By Dean Bilton
So the Indians are currently enjoying a richly-deserved lap of honour. I’m not sure Rishabh Pant has stopped smiling since the ball left his bat that last time.
The Aussies, on the hand, are ashen faced. At some point the conversation will turn to them, and frankly, there ought to be recriminations for Australia after this series. Today especially, Australia was depserately poor.
But that stuff can wait. Right now it’s India’s time. We’ll have presentations very soon, but for now it’s all celebration.
By Dean Bilton
Audience comment by Mandy
Congratulations India! Amazing match. Amazing series. They played so well. They deserve the series win.<br>Gutted for the Aussies, but so impressed with the Indians attitude to the game all series.
Audience comment by Gari
The spirit and skill of the Indian team is unbelivable
Audience comment by Steve
Well done India amazing effort! One for the ages
Audience comment by Old timer
The best thing about that historic test match is that it was a most deserved win. And a deserved series win. Magic stuff !
By Daniel Colasimone
Fabulous Test match
Jim Maxwell calls it:
“This has been a fabulous Test match!
“Even though they looked like they were going to explode with wickets at the end, they hung on.
“Pant was the hero.
“Congratulations to India, who’ve won this game thrillingly, by three wickets.”
By Dean Bilton
I REPEAT, INDIA WINS THE TEST BY THREE WICKETS! INDIA WINS THE SERIES 2-1!
Scenes of unrestrained joy on the Gabba, as Rishabh Pant is overcome by emotion and the weight of his achievements today. The Indian players embrace, a team now united by this accomplishment and immortalised in Test cricket history as one of the most remarkable the game has seen.
Truthfully, has there been a better series victory in Test cricket? A more unlikely one? The obstacles this Indian has overcome to pull this off, it just beggars belief. From the shame of Adelaide, to losing their talisman, to injury after injury after injury, all to arrive at the one place no touring team is supposed to be able to win, chasing a total no team at said ground has EVER chased down to win. And yet they won. With style and grace and skill and so much courage.
This is quite special.
By Dean Bilton
4 overs to go – Josh Hazlewood bowling – 10 to win
Surely Pant will just look to do this casually now? Does he even know how to do that?
HE’S HIT IT FOR FOUR! HOW?!? What a shot from Rishabh Pant! He was falling over, lost his balance completely, but STILL managed to get a pull shot away. What’s more, he absolutely creamed it. Away for four, he ends up on his back, he’s one shot away.
IN THE AIR! SURELY OUT?!? No! There’s no fielder at cover! Pant tried to end it with a six, and could so easily have been out. Five to win.
Shardul gets one on his hip, and tucks it easily down to fine leg… for two! Great running again by India, they’ve been wonderful between the wickets all day. Three to get!
SHARDUL IS OUT! CAUGHT AT MIDWICKET! SURELY NOT?!?!?
A leading edge! Straight up in the air! Straight to Nathan Lyon! Three wickets or three runs, what comes first?
The big question is if the batsmen crossed while that ball was in the air… the answer is yes. So Pant is on strike and Navdeep Saini is protected.
Two balls left in the over.
Miles down the leg side, but not a wide in Test cricket! Clever from Hazlewood. Can he bowl one more dot?
RISHABH PANT HITS A FOUR! INDIA WIN THE TEST BY THREE WICKETS! INDIA WIN THE SERIES 2-1!
By Dean Bilton
5 overs to go – Nathan Lyon bowling – 15 to win
Pant charges and smacks one through the off side… just a single. Honestly, Pant doesn’t even need to play shots as expansive as that. The field is SO spread, just take ones and twos and start celebrating.
Smacked out to deep point again by Washington. One more.
Swept by Rishabh Pant! There’s acres of space out on the on side, so he casually gets through for three. TEN RUNS TO WIN.
BOWLED HIM! WASHINGTON IS BOWLED REVERSE SWEEPING!
Well I’ve not got a single clue why he did that. It’s just taken a tiny bit of his glove on its way to the off stump too. He has done his job wonderfully here, and deserved to be out there at the end. I doubt it will make much difference to the outcome, but it’s a shame for Washington Sundar.
NOW they’ve brought some fielders in around the bat! In the nick of time.
Shardul Thakur defends the last ball of the over. Four to bowl, 10 to win.
By Daniel Colasimone
India’s momentum unstoppable
“I don’t know how the Australians can stop this energy.”
“They certainly need to get one or both of these batsmen out. Because they’re on song.
“They seem to have enormous self belief.”
“We are watching potentially one of the greatest Indian victories of all time.
“There’s no doubt about it.
“The roar of the crowd suggest there are quite a few Indians here.”
By Dean Bilton
6 overs to go – Josh Hazlewood bowling – 24 to win
Josh Hazlewood thrown the ball. Can he do anything to stop this Indian charge?
Pant drops and runs a quick single to cover… AND THERE’S AN OVERTHROW! Make that two for Pant. They can walk this in with singles now.
Turned away to fine leg by Pant… and he gets back for two more! Field completely spread by Australia, as it has been for all of Pant’s innings.
Now just a single to square leg from Pant. 19 to win. Unbelievable.
FOUR LEG BYES! Washington has somehow kicked one OVER the slips cordon for four! I don’t know how he did it, but it doesn’t matter now!
Hazlewood ends the over by screaming one past Washington’s outside edge. No nick though, so another successful over for India ends.
By Dean Bilton
7 overs to go – Nathan Lyon bowling – 39 to win
Pant on strike.
RAMPED! FOUR! IT’S PARTY TIME! What a shot from Rishabh Pant! Falling to his knees, he’s flicked one over where leg slip would have been and earns another four!
What a result this will be for India.
FOUR MORE! The most brutal sweep shot you’ll ever see! India is that close!
Now driven out to deep point for a single. 31 from 39 needed.
FOUR BYES! It’s hit a crack, spun the other way and gone straight through the keeper for another boundary. It’s almost over!
Two more for Washington out to deep cover! 15 from the over, and India is about to pull off one of the greatest Test series victories in the history of the sport.
By Dean Bilton
8 overs to go – Pat Cummins bowling – 50 to win
50 runs, 48 balls.
Short ball, Pant ducks out of the way.
Single to Pant down to fine leg. They creep ever closer. But one way or another, looks like the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be staying in India.
IN THE AIR! But mid off is deep! Way too deep! It lands a metre or two in front of him!
For two straight days now, I haven’t been able to get my head around the concept that Australia would be at all worried about losing this game.
SIX RUNS! HUUUUUUUUUUUGE! Washington Sundar steps inside a bouncer and hooks Cummins DEEP over fine leg for six runs!
FOUR RUNS! Slashed over the gully for another boundary! Washington getting the job done!
10 runs off the last two balls, and it’s now 39 runs off 42 balls. India should do this!
One driver had a journey to remember when he spotted a car with a coveted number plate in front of him and quickly snapped a picture of it.
It shows the number plate, with the single number ‘1’ on a Mercedes AMG, which is stopped and waiting for a light to turn green.
Hailing from Victoria, the number plate is estimated to be worth between $2 and $2.5 million, while the luxury Mercedes retails for around $200,000.
The last person reported to have owned the number plate was Peter Bartels, the former CEO of Coles and Foster’s Group, although it isn’t clear if he was driving the silver Mercedes sedan at the time.
He has reportedly been offered $1.5 million for the plate in the past but rejected it.
The number plate was released in 1932, but was locked in a vault at the Motor Registration Board for more than 50 years after the police commissioner, premier and governor argued about who should keep it, according to legend.
In 1984, Victoria’s ‘1’ plate made its debut at auction and was snapped up by a retired Ballarat mechanic who allegedly paid $165,000.
It went on the change hands a number of times including Izzy Herzog, who slapped them on a company car when he owned City Saab, before being used as a prize for a Channel Ten telethon.
Later, it ended up with Carlton & United Breweries — then owner of Fosters — in 1991 for a reportedly bargain price of $100,000. Mr Bartels negotiated the plates to be included as part of his severance package.
The record prize for a number plate is in NSW, where a vintage registration plate ‘4’ sold for $2.45 million at auction in 2017.
Azarenka, who won the women’s title at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, acknowledged being in a 14-day quarantine was “very tough to accept in terms of all the work that everyone has been putting in during their off-season”.
But the former women’s world number one said all players needed to show patience and be respectful of what the Victorian community had gone through during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would like to ask all my colleagues for cooperation, understanding and empathy for the local community that has been going through a lot of very demanding restrictions that they did not choose, but were forced to follow,” Azarenka tweeted.
“I would like to ask to be sensitive as well to the people who have lost their jobs and loved ones during this horrible time for all of us around the world.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley replied to Azarenka’s tweet, thanking her for her support and saying her “words are much appreciated”.
“It means a lot to us,” Tiley tweeted.
Azarenka’s stance is at odds with men’s world number 13 Bautista Agut, who expressed his frustration with the player lockdown.
“It’s the same [as being in prison], but with WiFi,” he said in an interview with Israeli broadcaster Sport5.
“These people has [sic] no idea about tennis, about practice courts, has no idea about anything so it’s a complete disaster.”
But Czech Barbora Strycova, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2019, supported the strict health protocols players were faced with during their quarantine period.
“I’m exercising twice a day, reading some books, being on social (media) and watching TV,” she told SEN Breakfast.
“I can’t really complain. I really have to go through it and try to be as positive as I can be.”
Confirmation of the fourth death comes as families and friends have paid tribute to others who lost their lives last week.
Lisa Mandeltort, a teacher at Nossal High School in Berwick, was described by her family and colleagues as an inspiring mentor. She died helping to rescue a 14-year-old girl at Venus Bay on the South Gippsland Coast.
Ms Mandeltort was able to help the teen and another man make it safely back to shore but ended up in distress herself and was pulled from the water unable to be resuscitated.
In another dramatic rescue attempt on the Mornington Peninsula, 45-year-old postal worker Aida Hamed lost her life after being swept off rocks by a wave at Bushrangers Bay.
Several helicopters were deployed to the scene at Bushrangers Bay where two men had jumped into the water to rescue Ms Hamed, her friend and two teenage girls after they were swept into the sea.
A man in his 80s, who has not been identified publicly, was pulled unconscious from Rye front beach and was unable to be saved.
Deaths related to the Pfizer vaccine among Norway’s elderly should be seen in context of the 400 deaths in aged care there each week, with the rollout in Australia expected to be unaffected, the chief medical officer says.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly says the Australian government and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is in direct talks with its counterparts in Norway, which is looking into each of the deaths of the 33 seniors.
“In Norway in a normal week, 400 people do pass away in their aged care facilities. So this has to be put in the context of what has happened after people have received vaccines,” Professor Kelly told reporters on Tuesday.
“That needs to be looked at very carefully, and that TGA will take that information into account in their assessment in the coming days and weeks.”
The Norwegian Medicines Agency medical director Dr Steinar Madsen says the 33 people who died after being immunised were already sick and over the age of 80.
Professor Kelly says he doesn’t have detailed information on each of the patients, but in general terms they were old, frail and some were terminally ill.
“They appeared that at least some of them have had the types of side effect of the Pfizer vaccine that we know about already from the clinical trials, so fever, diarrhoea, not eating, not drinking, people are very frail to begin with, close sort of things can be serious, and that type of situation.
“As I say, Norwegians are doing their due diligence in relation to that. We will have access to that information.”
Professor Kelly said mortality rate is very high once you get over 80 or 90 if you get COVID-19 and the TGA will need to work out the risk equation of who should be excluded from the vaccine.
He added Australia is in an enviable situation – with no hot spots, zero locally acquired cases over the last five days and no COVID-19 deaths for months – a huge contrast to the rest of the world still in the midst of the pandemic with 50,000 deaths globally in the last five days.
As a result, Australia has waited to do a full assessment of information coming in from other countries rolling out the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and other vaccines.
“They will be taken into account, it will not delay the process, but the TGA is doing its due diligence as we expect them to do,” he said.
“We have a balanced portfolio of vaccine that we are working through and Pfizer will most likely be the first to get approval, that is subject to the TGA very detailed look at that vaccine and their assessment.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine is also being actively considered by Australia’s expert advisory group.
Professor Kelly said the efficacy was only one component of a vaccine’s effectiveness besides how long its effect lasted and the coverage needed for it to work.
“We need to give as many vaccines out into the community as possible. If we do not do that than the effectiveness will be indeed affected,” he said.
He also cautioned the roll out of the first vaccinations in Australia in a few weeks “will not change everything back to normal” on the travel front.
Although Australia is in an enviable position compared to the rest of the world, international borders will be one of the last things to change, Professor Kelly said.
Nick Kyrgios joined former Davis Cup player Sam Groth in criticising Novak Djokovic after the Serbian world number one reportedly wrote to Australian Open organisers asking them to ease quarantine restrictions for players.
A Spanish tennis website reported that Djokovic wrote to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley with a list of “demands”, asking for reduced isolation periods and having players moved to “private houses with tennis courts”.
Djokovic’s management team did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Kyrgios criticised Djokovic repeatedly in 2020 for organising the Adria Tour exhibition event in the Balkans, where multiple players including the top-ranked Serbian contracted the virus.
“Djokovic is a tool,” Kyrgios, ranked 47th in the world, said on Twitter.
Djokovic, who opted to rent a private house instead of staying at a hotel during the 2020 US Open, is among top players who are serving their mandatory quarantine in Adelaide before travelling to Melbourne for the year’s first grand slam.
Djokovic, who set up the breakaway Professional Tennis Players’ Association last year after resigning as the head of ATP’s Players Council, was looking to gain popularity, said Australian Groth.
“Is he serious? It’s a selfish political move to gain popularity,” he wrote in his Herald Sun column.
Groth also pointed to the criticism Djokovic received for organising the Adria Tour in June.
“To suggest players should have shorter quarantine isn’t only ridiculous, it’s insulting to Australians that have had to endure it,” Groth added.
Meanwhile, Bernard Tomic’s girlfriend, Vanessa Sierra, drew flak from Kyrgios after complaining that the food served at their quarantine hotel room was cold, and grumbling about having to wash her own hair.
“This is the worst part of quarantine,” Sierra said on her YouTube channel.
“I don’t wash my own hair. I’ve never washed my own hair. It’s just not something that I do. I normally have hairdressers that do it twice a week for me.
“This is the situation that we’re dealing with. I can’t wait to get out of quarantine just so I can get my hair done.”
The 25-year-old Kyrgios, who has railed at tennis players who have breached COVID-19 protocols since the start of the pandemic, was not amused.
“I don’t mind Bernie but his Mrs obviously has no perspective, ridiculous scenes,” Kyrgios said.
Players knew the risks: Sitak
New Zealand’s Artem Sitak has sympathy for players concerned about the risks of competing after two weeks stuck in their rooms, quarantining in hard isolation ahead of the Australian Open.
But the Russian-born doubles specialist says players were made aware they risked being put into quarantine before the tournament and he was going to make the best of the circumstances.
“Especially for singles players, if they have to come out and go play a singles match, it’s very difficult, it’s extremely difficult,” he said of players’ concerns.
“I hope for everyone that they’ll be fine and there will be no injuries. It could happen.
“But as I said in my [social media] post, we knew the risk we were taking and Australia being very, very strict with their rules concerning the virus … this was always a possibility.”
Georgian tennis player Oksana Kalashnikova is among those players confined to a hotel room and unable to practise for two weeks.
Speaking to ABC News Breakfast, Kalashnikova acknowledged other players who were able to train had an advantage over those like her in hard isolation.
“Of course we are not in the winning position in quarantine and obviously the other players will have an advantage because we can’t really have the same amount of hours of practice,” she said.
Along with the competitive disadvantage her relative lack of preparation poses, she said she is concerned about the possibility that her changed routine could also make her more prone to injury once she recommences her typical training load.
“For any human being, if you are not doing the same amount of workout you can’t just go in and jump in and do the same amount of hours [of training afterwards],” she said.
“Personally, talking about myself, I am just going to raise my hours slowly just to go with how my body feels [not to] overload it in the first days.”
Kalshnikova said the players knew they’d be faced with at least mild quarantine measures, and that she was happy to follow the rules and deal with the situation in front of her now.
But she does believe more time to prepare for the open may have been helpful to the players.
Still, she is trying to make the best of the situation by doing workouts to stay physically active in her room.
Psychological resilience may be key to success
Former player and Kooyong Classic tournament director Peter Johnston said staying physically active and healthy would be crucial to the Australian Open success of the players in hard isolation.
But he said the players who were able to show psychological resilience and embrace training in these restrictive conditions would also be the ones who ultimately had the most success on the court.
“The physical aspect has to be managed, as we’ve talked about, but it’s really the one whose been able to keep everything together in their own mind and stay positive that will have the best results,” he said.
He said players should be staying “mentally up” by keeping communication with people on the outside, as well as doing as much exercise as they can.
But he said getting that physical training for a sport like tennis would be a challenge in the confined space of a hotel room.
“Well it’s very restrictive in a sport like tennis, as you can see from what lengths they are going to, to actually try and find some way to try and maintain their touch and their fitness,” he said.
“I think diet is also another massive issue and they need to have as much available to them as they normally would have.”
There’s also the climate related adjustment for players to consider, having left colder climate for air-conditioned hotel rooms, away from the Melbourne summer weather .
“I’d be really hoping for a window that opens because you need to experience the fresh air. The conditions in Australia are so much more extreme than players who come from say, the northern hemisphere,” he said.
He said it would be difficult for those competing against players who had better preparations.
But he hoped the nine days between the end of the quarantine period and the start of the tournament would give them a chance to bridge that gap in preparation.
“I think the good news is there’s a week’s break after this quarantine period is over and in that time there’s a lot of playing opportunities,” he said.
“It’s not perfect but I think that does give players the chance to have the best possible preparation as they can manage before the Australian Open starts.
Adjusting to a difficult situation
Former Australian doubles champion Todd Woodbridge agreed that mental preparation would be key for players emerging from hard isolation into the tournament.
“They are not going to be perfect, but they are going to have to do everything they can,” he said.
“I think Tennis Australia is looking at getting bikes into their rooms so they can do their cardio work-outs, and small weights and they’ll all already have programs that they would’ve been doing in that space anyway.
“So it’s about who mentally is prepared to do all those things.”
Sitak is one player who is mentally adjusting to the situation.
He says his preparation was not completely upended by quarantine, and takes the perspective that there is not much else he can do in the circumstances he finds himself in.
“Everything that I did in the off-season … I had six very good weeks of training, it’s not completely ruined but it’s not the same now,” Sitak said.
“We’re going to have to ease into it a little bit because it’s not easy to be locked down for 14 days. But what can you do with the circumstances?”
As for the reported 20 noise complaints a month, that it is a huge number, because once a resident has registered a noise complaint, their next complaint is not counted again, so this translates to at least 240 new complainants each year. Lyndi Chapman, Keilor
The area is already densely populated Land around Melbourne Airport is already densely populated. The state government and local councils have allowed this to occur, and a curfew must be introduced.
Residents in the municipalities of Hume, Brimbank, Moonee Valley and Maribyrnong already put up with horrendous aircraft noise day and night. If the proposed additional north south runway is to go ahead, living under these flight paths will be unbearable. Alana Bacon, Keilor
Safeguarding communities a challenge It seems a little unfair of Professor Michael Buxton to blame state and local governments for increasing residential development around Melbourne Airport.
The National Airport Safeguarding Framework, the agreement between the federal government and the states that outlines the need to safeguard airport operations, recognises that state and local governments must provide housing for a growing population and specifically states that ‘‘noise-sensitive development proposed in zoning where it is currently permitted may be treated differently to such development in an area currently zoned for non-noise-sensitive purposes’’.
In other words, in areas already zoned for residential development, states and councils may continue to approve applications for sensitive uses such as homes and schools. To do otherwise would starve established communities of necessary services.
Oddly, although the safeguarding framework pays lip service to protecting communities from airport operations, the substance of it only contains measures to safeguard airports from communities. Given that the noise contours used to guide planning decisions extend well beyond the six-kilometre buffer originally planned for the airport, safeguarding communities without constraining airport operations poses a significant challenge and will require something more than the motherhood statements that have so far been rolled out. Hannah Robertson, Melbourne Airport Community Action Group, Keilor
Thin edge of the wedge The intended takeover of 35 hectares of “green wedge”-zoned land in Heatherton is only the start of it (‘‘Suburban Rail Loop to knock out section of decades-old parks plan’’, The Age, 16/1). There are another six parks and gardens that are listed for destruction, including Sir William Fry Reserve in Highett. The Victorian government does not care a jot for community gardens and the public that love them and so intends to sacrifice them.
Independent experts say the real cost of the “loop” will be between $150 billion and $200 billion, not the $50 billion in government literature, and the cost cannot be justified. No official business case has been published to justify the expenditure but if it had, it would have meant nothing as this Victorian government is famous for underestimating and over-forecasting. As a result of COVID, more people will be working at home and less will be employed, therefore there will be fewer train passengers.
I have written to the rail authority with questions but had no response. They say they have consulted widely with residents but I live on Sir William Fry Reserve and there has been no contact at all. Colin Thomson, Highett
We might be in trouble Australia’s relationship with America is a subject of regular debate and discussion. Scott Morrison and other Australian leaders continue to assert that our close bonds are based largely on shared values.
If they are fair dinkum, and socioeconomic outcomes reflect values, then we are in serious trouble. In a recent Rolling Stone essay, Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis observed that: ‘‘What every prosperous and successful democracy deems to be fundamental rights – universal health care, equal access to quality education, a social safety net for the weak, elderly and infirmed – America dismisses as socialist indulgences …’’
The three richest Americans have more money than the poorest 160 million. One-fifth of American households have zero or negative net worth. The Trump presidency, COVID disaster and criminal neglect of the climate crisis are symptoms of a deep malaise.
Some values – some exemplar. Norman Huon, Port Melbourne
A different moral compass The Dutch government has resigned following a scandal that labelled more than 20,00 parents as child welfare fraudsters (‘‘The wheels of justice’’, The Sunday Age,17/1).
More than a year ago, the Australian government was informed that the tax office’s robo-debt scheme, created following what was later described as ‘‘policy fiasco’’, unlawfully targeted about 400,000 people for alleged Centrelink overpayments over many years.
Both governments have established refund schemes but it appears, considering the mental trauma and financial hardship this caused many Australian victims, our political moral compass on accountability is way different. Dave Tasker, Lilydale
Shut it down now How is it fair that at the Australian Open, a player whose training has been limited because of exposure to COVID-19 and has been quarantined may have to compete against a player who has been in full training? Every international planeload that flies in will bring more COVID and consequent inequities.
The AO is quickly becoming a farce. Shut it down, Mr Premier. Shut it down now. Geoff Phillips, Wonga Park
We should be confident … The system is safely returning Australians from overseas to their communities via hotel quarantine and testing. The same system can safely bring tennis players and their retinues from overseas to our community. The only significant differences are the daily five-hour practice sessions for tennis players and their support people, and these sessions are conducted under strict conditions.
Like Australians who have returned from overseas, tennis players and their retinues will only be let loose in the community once they have completed their 14 days of quarantine and received negative COVID-19 test results.
A quarantine breach is no more likely to occur with tennis quarantine than with standard hotel quarantine.
Victorians should be confident that the Victorian government and the DHHS have taken all precautions for the protection and safety of our population in relation to the Australian Open. Good luck to the players, and let’s enjoy a COVID-safe Australian Open. Andrew Baird, Elwood
If you think you’re getting a raw deal let’s see what happens if this new strain of COVID hits the streets of Victoria.
The citizens of this state are right to be worried. Angus McLeod, Cremorne
If only science ranked No.1 The decision to hold the Australian Open this year is a stark reminder of how powerful sport is in our society. It transcends everything else. The elite players are put on a pedestal. Not even a pandemic can stop this level of sport.
Imagine a world where our scientists were given the same kudos, money and recognition. That would be a world where the Australian Open could be played without any restrictions! Liz Danenberg, Mildura
What’s the alternative? Tim Soutphommasane makes some interesting points about the effects of meritocracy on egalitarianism (‘‘Virus wipes out the myth of equality’’, Comment, 18/1). But he does not provide an alternative to a ‘‘natural order’’ in which the strongest and smartest are rewarded.
The fact that some people rise to positions of wealth and power through little more than ‘‘dumb luck’’ does not seem sufficient to challenge ascendancy of the principle of merit. Few successful people admit to being lucky, or favoured by factors other than their skills and abilities.
It seems unlikely that Professor Soutphommasane would declare that other people could do his job better than him and that he should stand aside and let them do it while he slides into obscurity. Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
Land of divisions Tim Soutphommasane’s assertion that “Crises have the power to reveal who we are” – in the context of COVID-19 – is apt.
First and foremost, the pandemic revealed that ‘‘inequality’’ is deeply rooted in Australia and that the worst off (ie. homeless people) were promptly assisted into hotel accommodation not because it was a high-order priority by government (that is, beforehand), but as a virus containment strategy (that is, after the fact).
Moreover, Australian’s growing complacency about ‘‘inequality’’ is (not least of which) fuelled by continual messaging by the federal government of ‘‘lifters’’, ‘‘leaners’’ and welfare ‘‘rorters’’ and its meritocratic notion that all you have to do is “have a go to get a go”.
So, the ideological nonsense of ‘‘meritocracy’’ has progressively “shifted our culture” over time, whereby many among us have become inured to the plight of others lest they’re tainted with the same ‘‘unlucky’’ brush. John Fitzsimmons, Mornington
A life half lived I am an old man. In my youth we lived in fear of communism. Now we live in fear of China, Islam, COVID-19 and the Greens climate emergency.
I have just watched again the Australian classic movie Strictly Ballroom, and it reminded me, because I’d forgotten it, that a life lived in fear is a life half lived. Brian Sanaghan, West Preston
Putting real issue first The recent Ipsos online poll reported in The Age (‘‘Worries on economy surge over health fear’’, 11/1) provided the surprising result, at least initially, that the environment was the least of the top five concerns for responders. It rated behind the economy, unemployment, healthcare and the cost of living.
How could the existential threat to the future of our planet be rated so lowly? It is human nature to focus on immediate threats, so anxiety about being able to earn an income, put food on the table, provide a roof over the family etc will always rate higher than more nebulous and distant threats – no matter how serious.
We elect our politicians to address these longer term issues. Most governments, with the United States now back in the fold, have acknowledged the issue and are taking enormous steps to overcome the problem.
We need leaders who will ignore the simplistic conclusions from the Ipsos poll and instead develop the transitional action needed to save the planet while allowing individuals to focus on those other immediate concerns. Peter Thomson, Brunswick
Our three-year-old grandson loves our six chooks (two red, two black, two white) and, especially the one white Peking duck, Matilda. He’s learnt how to call them into the shed at night, feed them, collect the eggs, etc.
Six weeks before Christmas, a fox got Matilda. I told him foxes have to eat and feed their babies just like we do, that we were sad, but we’d be OK. He said he was OK, too. This week he’s holidaying in Tassie with his family. First morning, I get a Facetime call from our grandson – his eyes like saucers and hands flapping with excitement. “Nanna, Nanna, we’ve found Matilda!” (He’d spotted a group of Peking ducks swimming at the park they were at.)
“She’s in Tasmania. The fox didn’t eat her, he just ‘bringed’ her here to find some friends that look like her!” Bernadette Florence, Allans Flat
The dawn of a new concept? One of the few certainties in life is change. Language and attitudes evolve.
Following the reported use of the words by Wayne Gatt, the Victorian Police Association secretary, in commenting on a reported order to police from above, we will almost certainly see and hear more of the formerly oxymoronic ‘‘wilful compliance’’. Ross Drynan, Lindfield, NSW
There are other truths If truth is only found in mathematics why should our education system also promote ethics, kindness and tolerance (‘‘Be careful what we censor’’, Letters, 18/1)? Have scientific studies proven that this is necessary for a flourishing society?
Wisdom based on experience and often religion, however, does favour ethics, kindness and tolerance. The fact that humanity in the main has, and continues to practise religion, points to the likelihood that it is needed for a fulfilling, ethical life.
I look forward to scientists investigating why this is so. Marguerite Marshall, Eltham
Compulsory reading Such an excellent article from Roger Rasheed (‘‘Don’t shoot arrows, get creative in lockdown’’, The Age, 18/1) describing how those Australian Open participants who unfortunately are in hard lockdown for 14 days can make it a positive experience.
It should be compulsory reading. Anne Fitzpatrick, Abbotsford
AND ANOTHER THING
The Australian Open As much as I love the tennis, I really wish the players would stop and have a think about everyone else instead of complaining when they are forced to follow our strict protocols, it just makes them look like a bunch of over-entitled, privileged kids. This is COVID normal. Michael Carver, Hawthorn East
I quite like tennis, but is it cricket to bring the whole shebang here at the height of a global pandemic? Will it be a case of ‘‘tennis the menace’’? Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Dan Andrews is likely to find international tennis stars far less tolerant and forgiving than his endlessly patient and co-operative fellow Victorians. Geoff Green, Jolimont
In my day, Mother’s torment was the hitting of tennis balls against exterior walls. Max Horton, Adelaide, SA
The Australian Open tennis – opens Australia to more than tennis. Simon Gould, Arawata
Clearly the Australian Open is compromised by the COVID-19 cases. The risk to Victorians is too great – send the players home. Aren’t lives more important than a game of tennis? Bronwyn Brown, Templestowe
Politics It’s becoming clear what the federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack’s resolution for 2021 was: If he can make enough bizarre, unclear and nonsensical statements for this year he may sound similar enough to Barnaby Joyce to stop any leadership challenge. Kevin Ward, Preston
Furthermore Melbourne begins a return to work in the city. Petrol leaps from 112.9 to 155.9. Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley
Finally The imminent change of occupancy of the White House makes pertinent Oscar Wilde’s observation that some people bring happiness wherever they go … others, whenever they go. Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West
Note from the Editor
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.
Note from the Editor
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.