Querrey Breaches St. Petersburg Open Health Protocol, Flees Russia

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Where in the world is Sam Querrey? That’s a question many throughout the tennis world would like answered, especially the ATP Tour. Regardless, it seems the 49th-ranked American tennis player, who fled Russia with his wife and eight-month-old son after testing positive earlier this week for Covid-19, has some explaining to do.

On Thursday, the St. Petersburg Open organizing committee issued an official statement regarding a serious breach of protocol related to Covid-19 and specifically to Querrey, who earlier this week tested positive for the coronavirus and was withdrawn from competing in the tournament. He and his family, who were in isolation in a tournament-sanctioned hotel, later fled without authorization to an undisclosed country.

Querrey, 33, had entered the ATP 500 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was to have faced No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the main draw on Wednesday. He traveled to the tournament with his wife, Abby, and eight-month-old son Ford. Previously, Querrey had lost in the first round of both the Italian Open in Rome and the French Open in Paris. Before his scheduled first-round match in St. Petersburg, Querrey as well as his wife and son all tested positive for Covid-19 after previously testing negative when they first arrived in St. Petersburg.

In the official statement, “According to the ATP regulations and the sanitary protocol of the tournament, all players must get tested for COVID-19, and only if the test result is negative can they come to the stadium, get accredited, begin preparing for the tournament and participate in it. 

“Under the ATP regulations, players are supposed to take tests every fourth day beginning with the first day of the tournament. On the day of his arrival, on October 7, Sam Querrey and his wife took the test and the results were negative. On October 11, Sam Querrey and his family members tested positive, which result was confirmed by an immediate repeat test on the same day. According to the ATP protocol and the rulers of Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian federal service for monitoring mass events, including sports competition, Sam Querrey was disqualified and isolated in his hotel room of the Four Seasons hotel. 

“Rospotrebnadzor recommended that the tournament organizing committee, in addition to isolating the player, make a medical report on the state of health of Sam Querrey and his family members. The tournament had arranged for a visit to be made by a doctor and a pediatrician from the private clinic Sogaz, who made two attempts to examine Querrey, to no avail, as the sportsman never opened the door of his room – neither on October 12, Justine his refusal by the fact that his child was sleeping, nor on October 13, despite prior agreement. The dialogue between the player and the Tour Manager of the tournament brought no results.

“As recommended by the local Rospotrebnadzor and provided the course of the disease is asymptomatic, it was supposed to transfer Querrey from the hotel to private apartments for self-isolation so that the family wouldn’t experience any inconvenience nor pose a threat of disease dissemination. To that end, the organizing committee had prepared premium-class apartments. 

“A repeat test for Sam Querrey was scheduled on Thursday, October 15. However, instead of acting in accordance with the ATP rules and the tournament sanitary protocol, at 5:45 a.m. on October 13, Querrey along with his family left the hotel without informing the reception – as was filmed by the hotel security cameras. As Querrey told the ATP representative, he flew out of Russia on a private jet. The ATP representative passed on this information to the tournament management after the doctors made a repeat abortive attempt to examine the family. 

“Under ATP regulations, the organizing committee is to communicate with the players via the ATP Tour Manager on all issues arising during a tournament. All issues relevant to the relations between the tournament and the players are regulated directly at the tournament by the ATP Tour Manager. 

“The tournament organizing committee has done all it can to ensure the safety of the players, the ATP representatives and all the services of the tournament. It is the power of the ATP to evaluate and assess the actions of the player Sam Querrey.

“We are satisfied with the interaction with the organs of Rospotrebnadzor of St. Petersburg and wit the continuation of the tournament in accordance with adopted standards.”

– Formula TX, company-organizer of the tournament

According to a tweet posted Wednesday by New York Times tennis correspondent Ben Rothenberg, the Querreys, “who were experiencing what they considered mild symptoms, feared any or all being hospitalized in Russia, especially so given that they were traveling with their eight-month-old son, from whom they did not want to be potentially separated in a foreign country.”

Further, Rothenberg tweeted, “So Sam, who has worn patches from a private jet sponsor during some of the bigger matches in his career (including his Wimbledon semifinal run in 2017), arranged and paid for a private jet to whisk the family across the Russian border, away from the health authority’s reach.

“Sitting in the back of their hired jet so as to keep as distant as possible from pilots, the Querreys were delivered to what is only being described as a ‘nearby European country’ which didn’t require a negative test for entry.

“He’s staying at an AirBNB in said unknown country.”

On Wednesday, the ATP sent an e-mail to its players saying that a “serious breach of protocol” had occurred regarding the Querrey incident and said that such a breach could “jeopardize an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions on the rest of the Tour.”