Andy Murray: what did Scottish tennis star say about catching Covid and missing Australian Open?
Sir Andy Murray said he was ‘p----d off’ and criticised the NTC’s coronavirus protocols
Sir Andy Murray has criticised the Covid-19 protocols at the National Tennis Centre after he caught the virus.
After testing positive in January, the Scottish tennis star was unable to fly out for the Australian Open when he had to self-isolate for 10 days and missed his charter plane organised by Tennis Australia.
Murray believes he was infected while training at the Lawn Tennis Association's (LTA) flagship NTC in London.
So, what comments did Murray make - and how did the LTA respond?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What did Andy Murray say?
The former world No 1 has blamed the lack of coronavirus protocols at the Roehampton training facility for becoming infected.
Murray spoke of his anger about missing the annual Grand Slam tennis tournament, but said he was more concerned about his family’s well being after he passed the virus on to his wife Kim and their three young children.
He said: “I was p—-d off that I missed the tournament and wasn’t able to go to Australia from a personal perspective, but then the wider more important point is that it’s not just about a tennis tournament, when I am going back and giving the virus to all of my family and infecting them.
“I care about that a lot. And I don’t think people always realise that if you’re not sticking to what the rules and the protocols are, or the protocols that are in place are not good enough, you’re putting people in serious danger. It’s frustrating.”
The three-time Grand Slam champion said he had stuck to all the protocols carefully, not leaving his house or the NTC during the 10 weeks of training.
None of his family members or team had tested positive before he became ill.
The outbreak at the NTC also infected another British tennis player Paul Jubb and a doctor.
Murray said the tennis training centre had stricter coronavirus protocols during the first national lockdown in April, but after Christmas some people were not following the rules.
“When we went to the NTC in April or around that time of the first lockdown last year, if there are six indoor courts, you could only practise on 1, 3 and 5. One court was spaced between each,” he added.
“There wasn’t any testing at that time but the gym was closed and it was restricted access.
“It was very different, whereas after Christmas you obviously have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tons of people in the gym and it was just totally different.”
Restrictions at the NTC have since been tightened, including more testing, the lounge closed and greater social distancing, but Murray said the new rules were "too late".
Speaking about missing the Australian Open, Murray said he was still “gutted” about not being able to participate.
He said: “When I'm sitting in my hotel room here when I'm obviously healthy and fit and ready to play and compete, seeing the tournaments going on over there is tough, because I'd prepared really, really well, it had probably been the best two or three months' training that I had done in the last few years."
The Scottish sporting star has been battling for several years to get back to full fitness after having major hip surgery.
Which tennis star backed Murray’s comments?
British No 1 Dan Evans, who practised regularly at the NTC with Murray, backed up the tennis legend’s comments about the lack of protocols at the centre.
He said: “I think the Christmas period and the New Year period maybe slackened a little bit. Obviously the doctor had Covid as well, so that coincided with I think players then getting it when she was isolating.
"If I was being a bit harsh, without being rude to some players, [they] probably shouldn't have been in there.
"I was pretty nervous the last few days because obviously we knew the virus was there."
How did the Lawn Tennis Association respond?
However, the LTA, who own and run the NTC, responded to Murray and Evans’ comments by insisting that it had applied “stringent and appropriate restrictions”.
It pointed to the recent positive cases that had been recorded in quarantine in Australia, calling it “impossible” to eradicate all risk of virus exposure.
A spokesperson for the LTA said: “Our protocols are regularly communicated to everyone using the venue and we expect them to be adhered to in the player lounge and all other areas of the building,” a spokesperson said.
“It is impossible for LTA staff to police every part of the building continuously and ultimately individuals are responsible for their own behaviour and ensuring they follow the rules to protect themselves and others.”
What did Andy Murray’s brother Jamie say?
Contradicting Murray’s comments, his brother Jamie, who also trained at the NTC then flew to Melbourne to play in the Australian Open doubles tournament, backed the LTA’s coronavirus protocols.
He said: “It happened to Andy, which is going to be big news, and in that short time where we had to be Covid-free in order to fly to Australia.
“I think overall from the beginning of the pandemic when they were able to open the centre until now, like they have done an incredible job.
“The set-ups that they had in place, the protocols, all that stuff, the testing, they have done a great job.”
The doubles star said it seemed like someone had brought the virus back to the centre following players going home to families over the Christmas period.
“But me personally, I don’t necessarily feel like it’s their fault or it’s them to blame,” he added.
“I think overall they have done an amazing job, and I think to have the centre open to give all the players opportunities to train all the way through the pandemic, for me it was impressive.”