Monday, February 17, 2020

Australian Open games to be suspended if air is too polluted

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The air quality rules, announced by the Australian Open management, will apply to all outdoor matches and in retractable roof courts. Lee Jin-man / AP

After several days of controversy over the conditions under which the first Australian Qualifier (Melbourne) games took place, given the air pollution caused by the fires, the management of the tennis tournament announced, on Saturday, January 18, the establishment of a measurement system which could lead to the suspension of the meetings if a certain level is reached.

The game will be suspended if the level of airborne solid and liquid fine particles (PM2.5) reaches 200, i.e. the fifth degree of this scale measuring air quality. The fourth stage, between 97 and 200, will lead to a debate between the medical service and the organizers on whether to continue playing. The referee may interrupt a match if he considers it advisable.

These rules will apply to all outdoor matches and in retractable roof courts, where a match, if suspended, cannot resume until after the roof is closed. A match may not be interrupted before an even number of games have been played, or at the end of a tie-break if necessary.

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On Tuesday, Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to give up in the middle of the match after suffering from violent coughing fits on the court. And several players needed inhalers to relieve their respiratory distress.

Wednesday evening, thunderstorms had dissipated the noxious fumes and the qualifications had taken place Thursday without incident. Air quality in Melbourne on Saturday was considered "Moderate" by the authorities, a degree below "Good". Rains are forecast for Monday over the state capital of Victoria.

Federer's intervention

Some players who contested the qualifications wondered why the stars did not intervene more with the organizers. On Saturday, Roger Federer complained about the organization’s lack of communication over the past few days. "Can I go to the court and say" Everyone stops playing "? I can try. I don't think it gets things done. Maybe I intervened a little too late. But I don’t think I can do more than what I’ve done before ”, said the Swiss.

He explained to be "Went to see them the first day it was bad, Tuesday, and the next day when it was still bad. I said to them, "Look, I really think that communication is crucial for all of us, for everyone. More needs to be done because I feel like I haven't had enough information. "

"I think that the air quality for sport and tennis is a subject that we will have to discuss more in the future", Australian Open boss Craig Tiley said on Thursday. “We fully understand the anger. We invited the players to come see us when they want and to discuss it ”, he added.

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