Tennis

Smoke delays unlikely during Australian Open: Tennis Australia chief

Tough time: Though Melbourne has been blanketed by haze, the organisers said they have all plans ready to protect the health and safety of the players.

Tough time: Though Melbourne has been blanketed by haze, the organisers said they have all plans ready to protect the health and safety of the players.   | Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer

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Tennis Australia chief says players’ safety is top priority

Smoke from bushfires is unlikely to delay the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, organisers said on Tuesday, insisting they have pulled out all stops to protect the health and safety of players.

With the opening major of 2020 due to start at January 20, Melbourne has been blanketed by haze in recent days from blazes burning to the east —part of Australia’s bushfire crisis that has left 25 people dead.

Novak Djokovic, president of the ATP players council, said organisers should consider delaying the tournament, as a last resort, if conditions did not improve.

But Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said he did not see this as likely.

“There has been a lot of speculation about whether the smoke from the bushfires will affect the Australian Open,” he said.

“All the information we have at the moment, with qualifying coming up next week, is that the forecast is good, we don’t expect any delays and we’ve implemented additional measures to ensure the Australian Open will be able to run as scheduled. The closest fires are several hundred kilometresfrom the city,” he said, while stressing that the health and safety of players, staff and fans was a priority.

“There will be meteorological and air quality experts on site to analyse all available live data and assess in real-time the air quality at Melbourne Park, and we always work closely with our medical personnel and other local experts.”

Melbourne Park has three roofed stadiums and eight other indoor courts, the chances of major delays appear minimal.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 8:34:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/smoke-delays-unlikely-during-australian-open-tiley/article30506295.ece

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