Melbourne Air Pollution "Worst In The World" Overnight

Ruben Hill
January 14, 2020

Between midnight and 4am Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority recorded hazardous levels of air pollution, which has since improved slightly - if you can call it that - to very poor.

"This morning when we got up, the smoke haze was significant".

A tennis players at the Australian Open in Melbourne has been forced to retire from her match after collapsing during a coughing fit on court. "During the period of when we suspended practice and restarted the matches there was an improvement in the conditions".

Australian Open tournament director, Craig Tiley, said last week that he was hopeful the tournament, due to start on 20 January, would go ahead but said air quality would be closely monitored.

Twenty-eight people have been killed and thousands made homeless in recent months as huge fires across the country have scorched through 11.2 million hectares (27.7 million acres), almost half the area of the United Kingdom.

Later on Tuesday qualifying was delayed because of the poor air quality.

Players who have arrived in Melbourne for the tournament woke to a pea-soup haze blanketing the city on Tuesday.

Mandy Minella, the world number 140 from Luxembourg, expressed "shock" to see qualifying matches being played amid the toxic environment.

Germany's Alexander Zverev was due up first on the Melbourne practice courts, followed by Spanish world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

The umpire in Sharapova's clash with German Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic determined the conditions were too risky to continue.

"From a health stand point it's the right call from officials". "I think both of us felt it", Sharapova told reporters.

Commenting on the organizers' decision to make the players compete amid the stifling heat and smoke from the bushfires, Jakupovic said, "it was not fair".

"This is a new experience for all of us in how we manage air quality, so we have to listen to the experts", Tiley said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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