Australian Open practice was temporarily suspended due to poor air quality caused by the bushfires raging across the country
It appears the Australian Open is feeling the affects of the devastating bushfires raging across the country.
Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her Australian Open qualifier match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday after suffering a coughing fit, according to ESPN.
The 28-year-old was leading her match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Vögele, who will now move onto the second round of qualifiers, when she had to bow out due to illness.
In a video shared by the outlet, Jakupovic can be seen preparing to serve before she collapsing to her knees on court. The athlete, visibly crying, then consults with Australian Open staffers before the chair umpire announces that she will no longer be able to continue the game.
Australian Open practices that day were temporarily suspended “due to poor air quality,” according to the tennis tournaments official Twitter.
“Conditions onsite are improving and we are monitoring them constantly,” the organization said in a tweet, noting that qualifiers were delayed until 11 a.m.
“Further decisions will be made based on onsite data, and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria,” it added. “As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority.”
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According to Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, the organization is working to ensure the safety of athletes as they prepare for the Australian Open, which is set to begin on Jan. 20.
“This is a new experience for all of us in how we manage air quality, so we have to listen to the experts,” he told reporters, according to ESPN. “We have now real time raw data that we can collect — we have installed measuring devices on-site for air quality.”
Tennis Australia chief operating officer Tom Larner added that heavy smoke would be treated in the same way as an extreme heat or rain delay in the upcoming tournament, “We will stop if conditions become unsafe based on medical advice.
The City of Melbourne described its air quality as “hazardous” advised citizens to “stay indoors, keep windows and doors shut, and keep pets inside” in a tweet shared on Tuesday.
Since September, high temperatures and dry conditions have fueled the blazes in Australia, which have so far burned through more than 15.6 million acres, according to the BBC. At least 25 people have been killed and thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed.
Around 1.25 billion animals are estimated to have died due to the blazes, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Thousands more are believed to be injured and homeless.