Today in Australia, for the first time in months, no new COVID-19 cases were reported, and the authorities want to keep it this way, taking no risks. A strict lockdown and closure of the borders have contributed to this result, and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Brendan Murphy, has underlined that Australia should continue to avoid all possible contact with the rest of the world.
"It's unlikely that international travel to and from Australia will resume this year", Brendan Murphy told ABC News Breakfast. When asked about the likelihood of the international border reopening this year, he admitted that this was a “big question” and that he thinks “the answer is probably no”.
“I think that we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions - even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he added.
Tennis players in quarantine
In the meantime, and ahead of the Australian Open, scheduled to begin on 8 February, 72 tennis players have already arrived and were immediately put into isolation in Melbourne, because four passengers travelling with them tested positive. If staff members are included in the count, there are probably more than 100 people currently in isolation.
Despite protests from the players, forced to miss their daily training sessions, the Australian authorities have stated that “Covid doesn’t treat you specially and so neither do we”. And the precautions have proved necessary, as there are already seven coronavirus cases associated with the tournament, two of which are players.
MotoGP and Superbike at risk
All of this raises some legitimate doubts as to the feasibility of the Australian MotoGP, scheduled for 24 October.
The Superbike round at Phillip Island is not yet confirmed but was expected to be scheduled for immediately after the Indonesian event, taking place on 12-14 November.
It’s impossible to make any predictions, because a lot will depend on the results of the vaccine, but for now it’s not looking particularly likely that the two Phillip Island events will in fact run.
Translated by Heather Watson