Australian Open practice suspended due to poor air quality

Australian Open practice suspended due to poor air quality

Rod Laver Arena, the Australian Open's centre court, is one of three roofed stadiums at
Rod Laver Arena, the Australian Open's centre court, is one of three roofed stadiums at Melbourne Park AFP/PETER PARKS

MELBOURNE: Australian Open practice was temporarily suspended on Tuesday (Jan 14) due to poor air quality as bushfires continued to rage across the country.

Tournament organisers said practice at Melbourne Park had been suspended briefly but qualifying matches were scheduled to go ahead at 11am local time (8am Singapore time).

"Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored," a Tennis Australia spokeswoman said.

"Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria."

Twenty-eight people have been killed and thousands made homeless in recent months as huge fires across the country have scorched through 11.2 million hectares, nearly half the area of the United Kingdom.

The bushfires have affected a number of elite sporting competitions involving soccer, rugby league and cricket, and poor air conditions have raised fears for players' health at tennis's first Grand Slam.

Australian Open men's champion Novak Djokovic expressed concern earlier this month that bushfire smoke might cause some health problems for players.

Tournament organisers said last week that play would be confined to Melbourne Park's three roofed stadiums and eight indoor courts in the "unlikely case of extreme smoke conditions".

Source: Reuters/jt

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