Widespread raging bush fires in the east of Australia are set to have some effects on this year’s first tennis grand slam competition, as reports indicate that early preventive, precautionary and evasive measures are being planned to ensure the health of players, officials, spectators and journalists are not affected during the upcoming championship in Melbourne, megasportsarena.com can report.
Information emerging Down Under reveals that organisers of the 2020 Australian Open may be prepared to play an unprecedented amount of matches indoors to combat poor air quality if the country’s bushfires persist this month.
British tabloid, Daily Mail added that, a week before the qualifying event begins for the first tennis Grand Slam of 2020, the game’s authorities have been forced to look at contingency plans if the worst continues to happen.
Serbian ace, Novak Djokovic has been among those who have expressed concerns about health hazards for the opening Major of 2020, whose main draw begins on January 20. Lower ranked players are already arriving to prepare for the qualifying.
While some rain fell on affected fire areas, Melbourne itself was blanketed in a smoky haze, and the Environment Protection Authority officially described the air quality as ‘very poor’. The air quality index moved up to 210, which is a level considered ‘very unhealthy.’
Consequently, Tennis Australia has responded to the crisis by leading a fundraising drive which will include staging exhibition matches and a pop concert, but also looking at alternative options if play is disrupted, looking at possibilities that include the potential suspension of matches if conditions become hazardous, as they were on Sunday in the Victorian capital.
Organisers are also looking at the possibility of potentially extending usage of the three main arenas which, uniquely, are at their disposal at the Melbourne Park venue which have roofs and a total capacity of 31,500 seats.
The site also has eight indoor practice courts which, while not set up for spectators, could theoretically take the number of protected courts used to eleven in a worst case scenario. If they came to be used it would be the most indoor matches played ever at a Grand Slam.
Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley affirmed: “’We have committed substantial extra resources to analysis, monitoring and logistics to ensure the health and safety of all of players, staff and fans throughout the summer and have no other plans to move events.”