For the second day in a row, the qualifiers for the Australian Open 2020 were suspended following due to the smoke emanating from ongoing deadly bushfires. Melbourne, the venue of year’s first Grand Slam event, remains shrouded in toxic smoke, with the air quality being rated as ‘ very poor’ by the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Also Read - Australian Open 2021: Fans Barred as Melbourne Enters Five-Day Lockdown After Spike in Coronavirus Cases
The practice sessions have been cancelled but the play is expected to start not before 1:00 pm local time (0200 GMT). Also Read - 'No Vaccine, No Tennis' - 2020 Season Could be Over Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
“Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored,” Tennis Australia said. Also Read - Roger Federer Practices His Trademark 'Trick Shots' Amid Coronavirus Lockdown | WATCH VIDEO
EPA has issued advisory asking people in ” smoke-affected areas to take care, stay indoors away from smoke where possible and limit exposure.”
However, the Bureau of Meteorology did say that it’s expecting thunderstorms and wind changes later on Wednesday which will help in improving the air quality.
The qualifiers got underway from Tuesday after an hour’s delay. However, the decision to carry on with the competition has come under scrutiny after several players complained of breathlessness.
Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic quit her match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele after a cough fit while Canadian Eugenie Bouchard required medical attention.
“I was really scared that I would collapse,” Jakupovic said. While sympathising with the organisers she did say that there ” has to be some line in the sand. Like the heat rule, there should be an air quality rule. Maybe this tournament will help get that into gear”.
Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund ended their match at Kooyong early due to smoke.
The organisers of the Australian Open 2020 have maintained the event will kick off as per the schedule.