The Australian Open temporarily suspended practice due to air quality concerns in Melbourne, organizers announced. Wednesday’s practice was suspended until 11 a.m. (local time) and the tournament won’t start before 1 p.m. (local time).
“Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored and further decisions will be made using the onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria,” the tournament organizers said.
Activities at tournaments in Traralgon and Bendigo as well as an event at Royal Park in Melbourne were also suspended. The air quality on Wednesday was similar to Tuesday’s conditions when practice and play were suspended and delayed.
Practice for players already qualified for the Australian Open was temporarily suspended in Melbourne Tuesday as smoke from the fires, which have been blazing throughout the country for months, affected most of the state of Victoria.
Both days, the air quality in Melbourne was rated “moderate to hazardous” because of the smoke, according to Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority. The air quality has already impacted some athletes. A tennis player was forced to retire from the Australian Open qualifying after collapsing with a coughing fit caused by bushfire smoke.
Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was leading 6-4 5-6 against Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele but was unable to finish her service game at the end of the second set. Jakupovic said she was given a breathing apparatus by a physio in the first set, but began to feel worse at the end of the second.
She has urged tournament organizers to do more to assist players while the poor air conditions are ongoing. Other players, like No. 5 Elina Svitolina and Frenchman Gilles Simon have been critical of hazardous conditions ahead of the year’s first grand slam.