Wildfires Mar First Days of Play at Australian Open Qualifiers

Smoke from the fires shrouded the courts and caused one player to double over in coughing fits.

Comments: 41

  1. Outrageous to hold this tournament in dangerous conditions. Players are not commodities whose breakdown is the 'cost of doing business.' Relocate this tournament immediately... delay or cancel it. Commerce cannot rule all human values.

  2. @Sara Sadly, commerce does run the show and the rest of us be damned.

  3. If no indoor venues with air conditioning and filtering are available, relocating or rescheduling is warranted.

  4. @cynicalskeptic One would think (if one were a human being whose values were based on empathy towards one's fellow creatures). Unfortunately, we live in a society whose values are informed by an economic system--corporate capitalism--that holds as it defining ethic the belief that everything (including human health) is subordinate to corporations, those who can afford to invest in them, and the profits that can be made. The individuals who willingly participate in the system are either toxic narcissists or plainly ignorant. Clearly (no pun intended), the only way the tournament will be cancelled or postponed is if the players themselves refuse to participate; there is simply too much money riding on it going off as scheduled.

  5. Hmmm, a few more years to an ice free Arctic...wonder if conditions will be better or worse after that

  6. @Minskyite -water polo will become the new national sport, in coastal areas, while sprinting (away from wildfires) becomes all the rage inland

  7. Delay, cancel, or relocate. This is a farce. The players are under contract to appear, and only the richest have any real choice in this matter. Tennis Australia, you are burning good will here. Do the right thing.

  8. @DapperDanMan The top players should pull out now. They have the clout to force a postponement

  9. This should highlight the impacts of global warming except that the media will be gagged so it can't be mentioned on TV. Australia is another place with a climate denier government and is a big coal exporter so the pigeons are coming home to roost.

  10. Shame on the ATP, WTA and tournament organizers for making these qualifiers play in dangerous conditions. Money should not rule over players' health.

  11. Why not? Money rules over health in the NFL.

  12. Seems stupid to endanger players and spectators. Seems even more stupid to hold this tournament as a profit making tournament when people are dying and losing their homes and land. Postpone it and give at least some of the revenue to help those folks

  13. @Don McConnell Climate change. What climate change? I don't see any smoke.

  14. Speaking as an avid tennis fan and a fervent Federer supporter, who has been awaiting this tournament since the the last Grand Slam in the U.S., I would hate to see any athlete's health endangered by having to play in these conditions. They are running at full tilt, in extreme heat conditions during the Australian Open - and now smog is added to this? They should postpone the tournament....

  15. The top seeds even though not having to play the qualifying rounds should step and say they will refuse to play if play continues in unsafe conditions for the players trying to qualify.

  16. There is absolutely no excuse for play in those conditions. The governing committee of the Australia Open should be strongly censored for putting players at risk!

  17. It is reprehensible that these athletes were made to play in smoke conditions so severe it isn’t even safe to be outside.

  18. If hazard warnings have been issued that the air is not safe to breathe, then play should be suspended. It is frankly criminal to force people to work under such conditions. They may need to get creative and find a way to use only indoor courts across the city as the fires are unlikely to die down before the tournament begins.

  19. This is the beginning of many activities that will have to be rescheduled or moved; oh wait, there is only ONE planet earth! Homo sapiens, you have made your bed - now start lying in it.

  20. Why are they playing on? Crazy. This is going to do untold damage to Australia's image as a sporting not to say tourism, foreign student, and chinese money exodus destination.

  21. This is ridiculous. The air is hazardous, people are being told to stay indoors and not breathe the toxins yet the matches are still going on? If air quality is at hazardous levels, play should be suspended. A no-brainer.

  22. This is hubris and cruelty on the part of Australian officials. They are damaging players for life as they have them play under these conditions. Australia cannot have these games this year. Everyone will understand. We are all sympathetic for the country's problem. However, if they persist, they will lose that sympathy and concern. The Australians should think this through!

  23. I live in Melbourne, and couldn’t believe the AO allowed play to go on yesterday. The smoke that blanketed the city was the worst experienced by far this year - you couldn’t see more than 200 yards in front of you. Really poor form to force players to play in those conditions.

  24. Why is this tournament taking place? The show must not always go on.

  25. Forcing players to play in this environmental disaster and/or forfeit matches is an absolute disgrace. Whatever are the tournament organizers thinking, besides they don’t want to refund ticket money? Tournament needs to be cancelled immediately.

  26. The wildfires marred the Australian open. Oh isn't that too bad. The wildfire crisis is of paramount importance and the tennis match is of zero importance.

  27. I’m a huge tennis fan and every year I can hardly wait for the first major of the season. But this is just appalling. They should either cancel or relocate to somewhere else ; Australia is big enough. Or just pass it on to New Zealand. Tasmania Open, or something. Just make this ridiculous thing stop. Players should go on strike (yes, I live in Geneva, surrounded by France, so there you have it).

  28. How tone deaf are the organizers and players? While people are losing their lives, their homes and their livelihoods, the Australian Open plays on. And the players, who do not have to be in Australia, are complaining? Give me a break!

  29. "Jakupovic, who has not previously had breathing issues, said she was having difficulties “like an asthma attack” while warming up for her match." The horrors of the anthropocene will take many forms.

  30. The top tier players really could do their colleagues a favor by calling out the Australian open governing body for making the others play in these awful conditions. To have your career and legacy be altered because of ecological conditions they have no power over is beyond unfair

  31. I can't even sit outside for more than a few minutes at the moment - I can't imagine running around a tennis court for hours. This is insane.

  32. If the top 10 men and top 10 women players said they won't play due to unhealthful conditions and/or it not being right to play while the country is on fire and animals are dying, then this tournament gets postponed in 10 minutes, as it should be.

  33. Lungs, like other parts of your body, do not regenerate after being damaged. They should refuse to play and protect their health. It seems like an inappropriate time for a tennis tournament when millions of Australians are suffering.

  34. It would have been wonderful if all of the players had agreed not to participate in the first place. What will it take for individuales, or groups of individuales, to hold governments accountable for not doing more to address climate change?

  35. Way to go Australian Open officials. Make them smoke unfiltered cigarettes during the next match. Sheer irresponsibility.

  36. The Australian Open Governing Body clearly shares some of the striking qualities of the Australian Prime Minister, the dismal Scott Morrison, being immune to reason, obsessed with making money and blind to danger even when its staring you in the face.

  37. What is it about the mindset of officials everywhere whose initial response is always business as usual? I am a community college student in Sacramento. Even though the air quality here during the Paradise fire was the unhealthiest on the planet and merely walking outside induced coughing and watery eyes, the adminstration refused to cancel classes for days, even though few students showed up. I play tennis. I can't imagine what it would have felt like had I done so in those conditions at the level of intensity at which the pros play. To not call off the tournament would be cruelly insensitive (at the very least) and to play in it (especially into the later rounds, as the top players would likely do) is insane, because they risk damaging not only their health, but their careers as well. Plus, the outcome of the entire tournament could very well be decided not by which players are playing the best but by who can best withstand the conditions. And who wants that? (Oh, wait. The tournament organizers and the sponsors do.)

  38. Like the NYE Fireworks, it's yet another example of officials in Australia trying to pretend that everything is normal.

  39. The karmic retribution of the largest coal exporter in the world should terrify us all. Djokovic is correct that the players need to unionize in order to prevent their being used by tournaments as cogs in the ATP and WTA machines who might be able to sue players who refuse to play in unhealthy conditions.

  40. The AO should be cancelled this year given the situation. Somethings in life are more important than tennis.

  41. I think Maria Sharapova was disciplined for taking meds to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of her respiratory system. Also, Serena Williams has had blood clots form in her lungs partially due to the high O2 levels needed to refresh and refuel her powerful body. O2 deficits formed by the body must be especially hazardous. To bet that interference via smoke and particulates with the human body's respiratory system will prove to be innocuous for the Australian Open players and qualifiers must be an extremely risky and avoidable gambit for its directors and sponsors to back. [01/15/2020 Wed. 12:14 pm Geenville NC]