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

'Super tie-breaker' saves Federer in thrilling third-round victory'Super tie-breaker' saves Federer in thrilling third-round victory

Gauff upsets the odds yet again as Williams and Wozniacki crash outGauff upsets the odds yet again as Williams and Wozniacki crash out

Tsitsipas beaten in Melbourne but Djokovic marches onTsitsipas beaten in Melbourne but Djokovic marches on

Williams labels herself “unprofessional” after defeat to Wang in MelbourneWilliams labels herself “unprofessional” after defeat to Wang in Melbourne

More in this Section

Ladies football: Flying high brings new challenges to newly-promoted WaterfordLadies football: Flying high brings new challenges to newly-promoted Waterford

Kerry’s youngest club looking for another big step in CrokerKerry’s youngest club looking for another big step in Croker

Graham adds to Scotland woes after Russell exclusionGraham adds to Scotland woes after Russell exclusion

Achilles injury halts Okunbor's AFL progressAchilles injury halts Okunbor's AFL progress


Lifestyle

Food news with Joe McNameeThe Menu: Upcoming food highlights

THE health properties of tea have long been advertised. “It maketh the body active and lusty” a 1660 promotion suggested. However, before you dunk your teabag into a mug of steaming water, spare a thought for the environment. Some have polypropylene to help to seal them and it doesn’t decompose.Storm in a teacup: Top 8 loose-leaf teas

Bestselling author Isabel Allende talks to Rowena Walsh about life, grief, and why it’s never too late to fall in loveIsabel Allende: It's never too late to fall in love

Cliffs of Moher Retreat owner Michelle Moroney has written a book on finding self-worth and stepping back from our 24/7 lives. She talks to Marjorie Brennan about the need to unwindMichelle Moroney highlights the need to take stock of our lives

More From The Irish Examiner