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Sport Wildfires Mar First Days of Play at Australian Open Qualifiers

07:50  15 january  2020
07:50  15 january  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Smoke from the wildfires shrouded the courts and caused one player to double over in coughing fits. Hazardous air enveloping Melbourne, Australia , delayed play on the first day of Australian Open qualifying matches on Tuesday, causing one player to double over in coughing fits during a

Hazardous air enveloping Melbourne, Australia , delayed play on the primary day of Australian Open qualifying matches on Tuesday, inflicting one participant to double over in coughing matches throughout a match because the nation’s wildfires marred the famed event.

a large ship in the background: The Melbourne city skyline was shrouded in smoke haze from bushfires during an Australian Open practice session on Tuesday. © Michael Dodge/Australian Associated Press, via Reuters The Melbourne city skyline was shrouded in smoke haze from bushfires during an Australian Open practice session on Tuesday.

Hazardous air enveloping Melbourne, Australia, delayed play on the first day of Australian Open qualifying matches on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, causing one player to double over in coughing fits during a match as the country’s wildfires marred the famed tournament.

Citing “hazardous” air conditions caused by smoke from nearby wildfires blowing toward the city, the City of Melbourne advised residents Tuesday morning to “stay indoors, keep windows and doors shut, and stay inside.”

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Smoke from the wildfires shrouded the courts and caused one player to double over in coughing fits. A tennis player was forced to abandon an Australian Open match over a coughing fit caused by smoke from bushfiresToday at 11:15 AMwww.businessinsider.com.

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The city also closed the North Melbourne Recreation Centre and the Melbourne City Baths in the interest of safety. But after an hourlong delay, the would-be Australian Open qualifiers played on, even though the air quality index remained in an unhealthy range, with temperatures in the low 90s adding to difficult conditions.

Dalila Jakupovic, a Slovene player ranked 180th, was winning her match against Stefanie Vögele in the midafternoon when she sank to her knees in a fit of coughing. Struggling to breathe, she was forced to abandon the match as she was leading, 6-4, 5-6.

A man puts on his face mask as he enters Melbourne Park in Melbourne on January 15, 2020, ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images) © Getty Images A man puts on his face mask as he enters Melbourne Park in Melbourne on January 15, 2020, ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images) Jakupovic, who has not previously had breathing issues, said she had been having difficulties “like an asthma attack” while warming up for her match.

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A tennis player was forced to retire from Australian Open qualifying in Melbourne after collapsing with a coughing fit caused by bushfire smoke.

“I think it was not fair because it’s not healthy for us,” Jakupovic told reporters. “I was surprised. I thought we would not be playing today, but we really don’t have much choice.”

Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, complained to medical staff that she also experienced chest pains, feeling “spikes in her lungs.” Her opponent, You Xiaodi, also struggled with the conditions, and hit only underarm serves for much of the third set of Bouchard’s victory.

“I think there just has to be some kind of line in the sand, some kind of rule where you measure the air and if it’s over a certain number or however you measure it, then you just don’t play,” Bouchard told reporters.

a man sitting in a chair in front of a blue car: A man took protection against smoke haze during an Australian Open practice session on Tuesday. © Michael Dodge/Australian Associated Press, via Associated Press A man took protection against smoke haze during an Australian Open practice session on Tuesday. Strict guidelines are in place at the Open for stopping play or closing stadium roofs when heat becomes too intense. But no tournament policy has yet been made public regarding air quality.

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Wildfires Mar First Day of Play at Australian Open Qualifiers . Hazardous air enveloping Melbourne, Australia , delayed play on the first day of Australian Open qualifying matches on Tuesday, causing one player to double over in coughing fits during a match as the country’s wildfires

Australian Open 2020 will kick off with a concert raising money for the Red Cross bushfire appeal. Designed with the Australian Open fan in mind, this playful range is aimed at everyone no matter what their gender or age group.

Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, said Tuesday that extensive testing and consultation were taking place on site and that the tournament would continue to suspend play if it was deemed necessary.

“The health and well-being of not only the players but the fans and our staff is of utmost importance,” Tiley said.

Main-draw play at the Australian Open is scheduled to begin Monday. Tournament officials have indicated that if the bushfire smoke continues to be an issue, they have the capacity to stage the event by closing the roofs on their three main stadiums and filtering the air.

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Those three show courts have a combined seating capacity of nearly 33,000, and the tournament also has eight indoor courts available. Those are normally used for practice during the Open but could be used for matches, even though they lack spectator seating.

But if the poor air quality persists, it is uncertain for now whether moving the tournament indoors would assure safe playing conditions.

“The long-term forecast and even the short-term forecast is good, and we’ll just take it a day at a time,” Tiley said.

Tiley said representatives from both the men’s and women’s tours were being consulted and that they had supported the decision to delay and ultimately resume play on Tuesday, when matches were pushed back an hour. On Wednesday, organizers announced that start of play would be delayed three hours, to 1 p.m. local time.

“The on-site data and measurements were similar to yesterday,” Tennis Australia said in a statement. “Conditions yesterday were forecast to improve throughout the day, which is what occurred.”

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her match with Laura Siegemond of Germany which was abandoned due to the smoke from Australia's bushfires at the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament, in Melbourne on January 14, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) © Getty Images Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her match with Laura Siegemond of Germany which was abandoned due to the smoke from Australia's bushfires at the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament, in Melbourne on January 14, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) Bernard Tomic of Australia was among the players who sought medical assistance on Tuesday for breathing difficulties; during his opening match he was treated with an inhaler. He lost the match.

So did Liam Broady of Britain, who prides himself on his conditioning and described himself as “gasping for air” after just 12 games. He said he thought qualifying players might be treated more roughly than the star competitors whose matches begin in the main draw next Monday.

“Maybe we have to earn the right to be treated like the main-draw players do,” Broady told The Daily Mail. “But at the same time, we are all human beings, and there is no doubt that this is pretty bad for you to be running around in these conditions.”

The normally clear views of the city skyline from Melbourne Park were obscured by dusty air. A sepia tinge hung in the air, and coughing could frequently be heard around the courts.

Many players expressed anger that matches were played in such conditions and at the lack of clarity or communication from the tournament.

“Shocked to see that qualifying matches have started @AustralianOpen,” tweeted the player Mandy Minella from Luxembourg. “What about the health of all the people that have to work out there, especially the ball kids?”

Fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina tweeted, “Why do we need to wait for something bad to happen to do an action?”

Across town at the Kooyong Classic exhibition event in Melbourne, a match on Tuesday between Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund was halted at 5-5 in the second set because of the poor air quality.

“We were out there for over two hours, so I think from a health standpoint, it was the right call from the officials” to end the play, said Sharapova, who said she had “started feeling a cough coming on” toward the end of the match.

Sharapova had struggled with illness in recent weeks, and she initially thought that might be the cause of her symptoms.

“When I heard Laura speak to the umpire and say she was struggling with it as well, I was like, thankfully I’m not the only one,” she said. “And then the umpire came down and said let’s just play one more game.”

MSN UK is committed to Empowering the Planet and taking urgent action to protect our environment against the climate crisis. We’re supporting those on the front line tackling the Australian bushfire crisis. Find out more about our campaign here.

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