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Bushfire smoke could affect Australian Open matches

January 07, 2020 08:35 IST
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Smoke-induced interruptions likely at season’s first grand slam.

A tired firefighter rests outside a cafe in Cann River, Australia, on Monday. Milder weather conditions have provided some relief for firefighters in Victoria as bushfires continue to burn across the East Gippsland area, as clean up operation and evacuations continue. Two people have been confirmed dead and four remain missing. More than 923,000 hectares have been burnt across Victoria, with hundreds of homes and properties destroyed. 14 people have died in the fires in NSW, Victoria and South Australia since New Year's Eve

IMAGE: A tired firefighter rests outside a cafe in Cann River, Australia, on Monday. Milder weather conditions have provided some relief for firefighters in Victoria as bushfires continue to burn across the East Gippsland area, as clean up operation and evacuations continue. Two people have been confirmed dead and four remain missing. More than 923,000 hectares have been burnt across Victoria, with hundreds of homes and properties destroyed. 14 people have died in the fires in NSW, Victoria and South Australia since New Year's Eve. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australian Open organisers are monitoring the deteriorating air quality in Melbourne and said matches could be suspended if conditions become hazardous amid the bushfire crisis.

Hundreds of fires have killed at least 25 people and ravaged more than 8 million hectares (19.8 million acres) of land across Australia over the last few months.

 

With qualifying for the season's first Grand Slam starting on January 14, tournament director Craig Tiley said officials can halt play if smoke poses a danger to players' health.

"Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain," he told local media.

"We have access to real-time monitoring of air quality at all of our venues and are working closely with medical personnel and local experts on site to ensure we have the best possible information available to make any decisions regarding whether play should be halted at any point.

"The health of players, fans and staff is a priority at all times and we will continue to make these decisions with that in mind."

There have so far been no smoke-related delays at the ATP Cup, which is taking place in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

However, this week's ATP Challenger/ITF Futures tournament scheduled to take place in Canberra was moved to Bendigo, while the capital city's Brumbies rugby team moved their pre-season training camp to Newcastle.

The Australian Open main draw begins on January 20.


Edited by Norma Godinho

 

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