Poor air quality affects Australian Open qualifying for second day

Poor air quality affects Australian Open qualifying for second day

Poor air quality continued to affect the Australian Open on Wednesday with qualifying delayed for the second day in a row.

Tournament organisers came in for heavy criticism after beginning matches only an hour later than scheduled on Tuesday and playing through the day despite conditions indicating a danger to health.

Several players complained of breathing issues, with Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic retiring during her first-round match after collapsing on court.

Melbourne again woke up to a smoky haze from the bush fires that have devastated parts of the country and continue to burn out of control.

This time organisers pushed back the start by three hours to 1pm when, although the air quality index continued to show conditions as “unhealthy”, the sky was noticeably clearer.

The main challenge for the players was stifling heat, although that was broken by a fierce thunderstorm that hit Melbourne Park late in the afternoon and sent players scurrying for the locker rooms.

The Australian Open has a scale for determining when play should be suspended because of heat but has not announced what parameters it is working to regarding air quality.

The chief health officer for the state of Victoria, Dr Brett Sutton, called for that to change on Wednesday, telling local media: “Tennis Australia needs to work up an air quality policy.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut made his feelings clear (Nicolas Mahut Instagram)
Frenchman Nicolas Mahut made his feelings clear (Nicolas Mahut Instagram)

“I can’t make a call on what individual thresholds might be, it really does depend on what it might mean to enclose a space and what filtration systems they might have as alternatives.

“But I think they need to consider through all those thresholds, from poor to hazardous air quality, what their alternatives might be with a view to protecting as many players as possible.”

In the lead-up to the event, tournament director Craig Tiley said strategies were being considered, including playing matches indoors, with three roofed stadia at Melbourne Park and eight indoor courts at Melbourne Park National Tennis Centre to call upon if required.

A statement on Wednesday read: “Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored and further decisions will be made using the onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria.

“The onsite data and measurements early this morning were similar to yesterday, when practice and play were suspended and delayed. Conditions yesterday were forecast to improve throughout the day, which is what occurred.”

Meanwhile, players including Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were due to take part in a special exhibition on Wednesday evening titled ‘Rally for Relief’.

Organisers were expecting to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help communities affected by the bush fire disaster.

The sport has so far raised around £1.5million for the cause.

More on this topic

Australian Open day 10: World number one Nadal beaten by inspired ThiemAustralian Open day 10: World number one Nadal beaten by inspired Thiem

Thiem defeats Nadal in four sets to reach Australian Open semi-finalsThiem defeats Nadal in four sets to reach Australian Open semi-finals

Djokovic pays emotional tribute to Bryant after beating RaonicDjokovic pays emotional tribute to Bryant after beating Raonic

Muted reception for Margaret Court as Australian Open marks her achievementsMuted reception for Margaret Court as Australian Open marks her achievements

More in this Section

Eriksen writes letter to Spurs fans following Inter switchEriksen writes letter to Spurs fans following Inter switch

Australian Open day 10: World number one Nadal beaten by inspired ThiemAustralian Open day 10: World number one Nadal beaten by inspired Thiem

World No 1 Koepka commits to Adare ManorWorld No 1 Koepka commits to Adare Manor

Rockwell hold Bandon scoreless to progress to Senior Cup quarter-finalRockwell hold Bandon scoreless to progress to Senior Cup quarter-final


Lifestyle

The duo are hosting a new Netflix competition show, putting designers through their paces.Next In Fashion: Why Alexa Chung and Tan France are style icons

Fresh water no filter: #instagood.The 10 most Instagrammed lakes in the world

A stay at tranquil hideaway The Residence is an indulgent way to unwind, rest and recuperate, says Sophie Goodall.Why this luxurious Turkish resort is the ultimate sanctuary for wellness and relaxation

The benefits of cutting down on booze can last way beyond the new year. Lauren Taylor finds out more about strategies to help make the change stick.Beyond Dry January: Is it time to reassess our relationship with alcohol in the longer term?

More From The Irish Examiner