Australian cricketers land in Sydney after fleeing Covid-hit India
Australian cricketers arrived back in Sydney on a charter flight Monday, more than a week after fleeing Covid-stricken India for the Maldives, local media reported.
Cricket authorities had been rushing to evacuate players and support staff after the lucrative Indian Premier League was suspended earlier this month as coronavirus cases surged in the country.
National broadcaster ABC reported that players including Steve Smith and David Warner were on board an Air Seychelles plane that touched down in Sydney about 7:30 am local time.
A group of 38 players, coaches, officials and TV commentators had reportedly been staying in the Maldives, after leaving India on May 6 aboard a charter flight arranged and paid for by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Two days ago the Australian government lifted a temporary ban that threatened citizens attempting to return from India with jail, paving the way for the group to return.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday the cricketers had not been given any special treatment and would be coming back "under their own steam, on their own ticket".
They are now expected to undergo 14 days of quarantine in a Sydney hotel, as part of strict border controls that have largely contained the spread of the virus in Australia.
Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye and Kane Richardson had left their IPL teams ahead of the larger Australian contingent and were due to have completed quarantine last week.
The IPL started in early April with the decision to go ahead in the face of a deepening health crisis prompting criticism from some observers, while others defended it as a welcome distraction for the embattled Indian public.
India reported more than 310,000 new infections and 4,000 deaths on Sunday, with the official number of Covid fatalities in the nation of 1.3 billion people now exceeding 250,000.