Australian cricketers have landed in Sydney after being stuck in the Maldives due to the Federal Government’s India travel ban.
The group of 38 Indian Premier League (IPL) players, officials, and commentators arrived at Sydney Airport this morning after the recent Indian COVID-19 outbreak forced the indefinite suspension of the IPL earlier this month.
The Australian group was unable to return home due to the government prohibiting any person who had been in India in the past 14 days from entering the country, prompting them to relocate and quarantine in the Maldives.
The Australian cohort’s return from India has drawn criticism amid thousands of Australians in India being unable to obtain a seat home, but Cricket Australia made no requests for special exemption to quarantine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the cricketers and officials were not given any special treatment.
“They are happy for them to come in over the cap. That is something we insisted upon and they were to agree with that,” Mr Morrison told reporters on Sunday.
“They will come back under their own steam, upon their own ticket, and they won’t be taking the spot in quarantine of any other Australian who is returning home under the NSW caps.”
Chennai Super Kings batting coach and former Australian Test player, Michael Hussey, remained in India to self-isolate after contracting COVID-19 and will be arriving on a separate flight.
As of Friday morning, Hussey was still awaiting the negative test result that would allow him to accompany the rest of the group in the Maldives.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has defended the testing scheme in India which prevented over 70 people flying to Australia on the first flight following the lifting of the travel ban.
People who were due to fly back were blocked Friday evening after 40 people tested positive for COVID-19 with a further 30 of their close contacts also barred from returning.
Roughly 80 Australians who were stranded in India are now in quarantine in the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory after they returned home on Saturday.
The Prime Minister conceded India is a difficult environment to operate in right now.
“We will work closely with Qantas who are obviously conducting that testing regime as part of their process and they will get every support from us,” Mr Morrison said.
“I hope and intend for us to get even more home in the other repatriation commercially facilitated flights in the weeks ahead.”
The next government-facilitated flight from India is expected into Darwin on May 23.