Aussie Open To Be Shifted Indoors If Bushfires Create Hazard
Australian Open organizers said that tournament action will be "confined to the three stadiums with retractable roofs and eight indoor courts if conditions become hazardous due to the bushfire crisis," according to Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. Smoke from the fires has "resulted in hazardous conditions in Sydney," where the final rounds of the inaugural ATP Cup team event will take place this weekend, and Melbourne, where the Australian Open begins on Jan. 20. Melbourne's retractable roofs are "usually used to continue play on the three courts when it rains or in extreme heat conditions," while the indoor courts are "usually used as practice facilities." However, play on the other 22 outdoor courts is "suspended during this time." Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Dir Craig Tiley said, "The health of players, fans and staff is a priority at all times and we will continue to make these decisions with that in mind." Meanwhile, Ganguly notes it remains "unclear where ground pass holders are expected to take cover if matches are suddenly abandoned due to hazardous conditions." So far, there have been "no smoke-related delays" at the ATP Cup, which is taking place in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth (REUTERS, 1/7).
BRING 'EM OUT: In Sydney, Sam Phillips notes despite "concern from players about the potential threat smoke may pose to their health," the haze "hasn't stopped fans from lapping up tickets" for the Open. Pre-sales are "already up for the crown jewel" of Australia's tennis season, "fueled by the status of women's superstar Ash Barty and strong performances" by fellow Australian's Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios throughout the ATP Cup (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/7).