Smoke delays are unlikely at the Australian Open, organizers say

Sydney, Jan. 7 (AFP) It is unlikely that smoke from forest fires delay the Grand Slam tennis Open Australia, organizers said Tuesday, and insisted that they had removed all the stops to protect the health and player safety.

With the main opening of 2020 that will begin on January 20, Melbourne has been covered by the fog in recent days due to the flames that burn eastward, part of Australia's forest fire crisis that has left 25 people dead.

Novak Djokovic, president of the ATP player council, said organizers should consider delaying the tournament, as a last resort, if conditions do not improve.

But Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said he did not see this as likely.

There has been much speculation about whether smoke from forest fires will affect the Australian Open, he said.

All the information we have at this time, with the qualification that until next week, is that the forecast is good, we do not expect any delay and we have implemented additional measures to ensure the Australian Open will be able to function as planned.

Tiley said that although the images of the fires, which have destroyed hundreds of properties, were distressing, there was no danger to people in Melbourne.

The nearest fire are several hundred kilometers (miles) from the city, he said, and stressed that the health and safety of the players, staff and fans was a priority.

We have committed substantial additional resources for analysis, monitoring and logistics to ensure that throughout the tournament, he said.

There will be experts meteorological and quality of the air at the site to analyze all live data available and evaluate in real time the quality of the air in Melbourne Park, and we always work closely with our medical staff and other local experts.

- 'Really sad' -

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Any danger of smoke would be similar fashion to the extreme heat and rain, with referees able to stop play if air monitoring shows that it is too dangerous to continue.

But since Melbourne Park has three roofed stadiums and eight other covered courts, the chances of major delays seem to be minimal.

The fires have been a key topic of conversation at the current ATP Cup in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth with tennis stars and other athletes who get behind a unit to raise money to help.

Each successful ace in the tournament will see Aus $ 100 ($ 69) donated to the victims, while several players have promised more individually.

Tennis Australia also organized an exhibition game to raise funds at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 15, before the Australian Open, with the participation of the best players in the world.

The world number one, Rafael Nadal said he would be one of them, calling the devastation of forest fires extremely sad situation. On my side we will do things to try to raise money for this terrible ... so I am here to help in any way that is possible and I am sure that we can, together with the rest of the players, help raise money important for this disaster, said Nadal. (AFP) APA APA

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