Australian Open tournament director Graig Tiley on Thursday confirmed that the season’s first Grand Slam tournament would start as per schedule on Monday, February 8. Tiley’s comments rubbished speculations of delay after a worker in a Melbourne hotel where players and support staff had quarantined tested positive for Covid-19.

 Graig Tiley said that the draw ceremony will be postponed from Thursday to Friday. The move comes after Tiley said all the players and support staff who had quarantined at the Melbourne hotel where the infected worker was employed will have to undergo mandatory Covid-19 tests by Thursday evening. We’re absolutely confident the Australian Open will go ahead. We are starting on Monday, Tiley told reporters in Melbourne.

Tiley said the players and support staff who underwent quarantine in the Grand Hyatt hotel, where the infected man worked, would have their obligatory tests for the new coronavirus completed by Thursday evening. The players have been asked to isolate until they get a result.

The draw for the Grand Slam tournament had been postponed from Thursday to Friday, he added. Notably, Thursday’s warm-up matches at Melbourne Park were canceled after the positive case at the Melbourne hotel emerged. Melbourne health officials were getting down to the business of testing 520 tennis players and officials for COVID-19 on Thursday after the infection of a quarantine hotel worker threatened the Australian Open. The testing is being done as a precautionary measure with Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews saying he thought the case was not a threat to the Australian Open.

Victoria endured one of the longest and toughest lockdowns in the world to contain the new coronavirus, and Wednesday’s case was the first to be locally acquired in the state for almost a month. Tennis Australia spent a lot of time and money to quarantine close to 1200 players, coaching staff, and officials for 14 days in the lead up to the Australian Open. Most players were allowed five hours outside for training but 72 were confined to hotel rooms for the two weeks after passengers on the charter flights that brought them to Australia tested positive for the virus.

Most players, including top stars of the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams, cleared the mandatory tests and are involved in tour events, including the ATP Cup. (With Reuters Inputs)