U.S. Markets closed

Australian Open May Halt Play in Elevated Air Pollution

Rebecca Jones

(Bloomberg) -- Australian organizers of tennis’s first Grand Slam of the year said games may be suspended when air pollution is elevated, after practice and qualification matches were delayed during the week and some players collapsed because of choking smoke from wildfires.

Under a new air-quality policy, assessments will take place continually throughout the day during the two-week Australian Open tournament due to start Monday, organizers Tennis Australia said. The AO Air Quality Policy is based on a scaled rating from 1-5, determined by analyzing concentrations of air pollutants at Melbourne Park.

Matches may be halted if the level reaches 4, signifying “elevated air pollution” of 97-200 PM2.5 matter. If pollution reaches 5, which is above 200 PM2.5 matter, the policy is activated and matches on outdoor courts will be suspended, while on arena courts the roof will be closed and play can only recommence once the rating in the arena drops below 5.

“I don’t think it’s going to be throughout the entire tournament, bad air quality and all that,” ATP third-ranked Roger Federer told a press conference at the weekend. “I think we should be fine.”

Catastrophic blazes in Australia have claimed 28 lives, killed an estimated 1 billion animals and have destroyed more than 2,700 homes as an area almost the size of England burned.

The start of the tournament is more likely to be soggy than smoky, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting heavy rainfall and severe thunderstorms for most of Victoria state.

“Generally, we’re going to see a very wet 24 to 48 hours,” meteorologist Dean Narramore said Sunday.

“Any decision on suspension or resumption of play will take into account advice from onsite medical experts, visibility, changes to weather forecast, and any other factors deemed relevant,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.

The tournament, one of Australia’s key overseas tourism draw cards, brought in an estimated A$290 million ($200 million) last year with a record 780,000 people through the turnstiles, according to the Victoria state government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Jones in Melbourne at revans6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Stanley James

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.