Tennis Australia won’t delay the start of Australian Open 2020 despite the ongoing bushfires crisis that has resulted in tragic loss of life and property. However, the organisers could halt/suspend matches if air quality becomes hazardous in Melbourne with the tournament set to start from January 20.
Novak Djokovic had touched upon the subject on Sunday proposing a possible delay should the conditions become severe enough putting the players at risk. “That’s probably the very, very last option. If it comes down to … the conditions affecting the health of players, you have to consider it,” Djokovic had said.
However, as per a report in The Age, the tournament officials say that it’s highly unlikely as the Melbourne Park’s courts have retractable roofs.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said they are closely monitoring the situation and have put in place the best possible measures to asses the air quality. “Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain,” Tiley was quoted as saying by the Reuters.
“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,” he added.
As per reports in the Australian media, fires continue to engulf parts of Victoria with the resulting smoke blanketing Melbourne on Sunday.
Players currently competing in Australia for various tennis events have already complained of ‘unpleasant conditions’.