By Erik Gudris
The aftermath of France’s Benoit Paire testing positive for COVID-19 before the start of the US Open continued over the weekend. Several French players, who were in close contact with Paire, will be allowed to compete after they signed amended protocol agreements.
Although Paire was forced to withdraw from the event per the original protocol, the players, both on the men’s and women’s sides, will be allowed to compete although their access to certain areas in the “bubble” will be restricted including dining areas and locker rooms. That restriction does not prevent them from access to the practice courts and the grounds.
American Noah Rubin, on his Behind the Racquet podcast, was the first to address the news. Noah took exception to the players being allowed to stay.
“They have been given new protocols to sign, a new document to sign. This is an amendment to the original documents and waivers we had to sign,” Rubin said on the podcast. “This is stating that they will no access to certain areas but will be permitted on the grounds and practice courts and everything like that.
“They will be still playing the tournament.”
Rubin expressed his frustration at the event by adding, “I’m looking at this and I’m like, ‘You’re not gonna do anything? All this work you put in, all the bull**** you thew away saying this is a bubble, this is this. We already know it’s not a great bubble.”
US Open Tournament Director Stacey Allaster spoke on Tennis Channel about the additional contact cases. She confirmed that the original plan for the US Open took into account that there would likely be positive cases once everyone was in the “bubble”.
Needless to say, the 2020 #USOpen is unique.
Tournament Director Stacey Allaster speaks with @BrettHaber about all the details.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) August 31, 2020
“All the safety and health protocols approved by the state and are now being implemented and overseen by the US Open medical staff are all being executed they way we intended,” Allaster said. “Everyone remains safe. With more than 33,500 individuals in our Tier One and Tier Two bubble we anticipated that we would have a positive test. Blessed that it’s only two. Two too many. But I can say the two individuals have been well looked after.”
She added, “Contact tracing has been executed, decisions have been made, and we’re continuing on to have those individuals in the competition based on the medical science and all of the facts and they will be in the competition starting this morning.”
Édouard Roger-Vasselin, one of the French players who was in contact with Paire, spoke to French newspaper L’Equipe about the new protocols he is now under, describing them as, “We are now in the bubble of the bubble.” Roger-Vasselin, is now under stricter rules than before on where he can eat, when he can leave his hotel room, and more.
“We can train normally with whoever we want, but today it will be with only other (contact cases). And my doubles partner (Jurgen Melzer) I can only see him on the court or during the match,” Roger-Vasselin said. “The other big question is also not knowing what happens to you if you lose. No one has been able to tell me yet. Are we allowed to go inside. Or should we stay in quarantine? Suddenly, it makes you want to win even more!”
No. 21 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia spoke about the situation on a Facebook Live chat with The Australian news outlet. He and his team plan to stay in their hotel rooms as much as possible.
“We don’t really want to have too much interaction just in case, whatever happens, because that could really mean we are out of the tournament,” de Minaur said.