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Leading public health expert makes urgent call for Australian Open to be postponed

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Article image for Leading public health expert makes urgent call for Australian Open to be postponed

A leading public health expert has made an urgent call for the Australian Open to be postponed.

The tennis tournament is set to go ahead as scheduled later this month, but COVID-19 concerns are mounting.

Two players competing in the Australian Open qualifying tournament in Doha have tested positive to coronavirus today, fuelling concerns the tournament will bring COVID-19 to Victoria.

Strategic health policy consultant at UNSW, Professor Bill Bowtell, says holding the event will “put spectators at risk”.

“I don’t think we should be calm about this,” he told Tony Jones, filling in for Neil Mitchell.

“We shouldn’t be looking at what people call proportionate or after the event. I’d rather we did prevention.

“We’ve just got to delay it and concentrate on the really only important task we have, which is to stop this COVID … getting into Australia.”

Due to restrictions on international traveller numbers into Australia, if Australian Open competitors and their support staff are allowed into the country they will prevent Australians stranded overseas from coming home.

“There are well over 1000 people associated with the Open who are coming in from areas that have extremely high COVID-19 outbreaks,” he said.

“I would rather those 1000 places … be used for Australians who wish to be repatriated to this country.”

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