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Australian Open In Danger Of Being Pushed Back Due To Air Quality Concerns
Wednesday, 01/08/2020
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Australian Open organizers have said that tournament matches could be suspended if the air quality in the location reaches levels that are deemed too unhealthy.

The competition is set to kick off on January 20 and end on February 2 but fires have ravaged the continent, killing 24 people so far, while millions of hectares of land have been left charred and the wildlife population seriously affected.

Tournament director Craig Tiley insists that the health of players and fans is the main priority and the quality of the air will need to be assessed.

"Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain," he said (via BBC).

"The health of players, fans and staff is a priority at all times."

According to the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology, visibility in some parts of Melbourne (the tournament’s venue) and certain surrounding areas is less than 1km (0.62) miles. The air quality index reached 213 on Monday, which is pretty bad as anything over an index of 200 is said to be “very unhealthy.”

"We have experts who analyze all available live data as specific to our sites as possible and consult regularly with tournament officials and, in the case of heat and smoke, medical experts," Tiley continued.

"We have access to real-time monitoring of air quality at all of our venues and are working closely with medical personnel and local experts onsite to ensure we have the best possible information available to make any decisions regarding whether play should be halted at any point."

The tournament’s qualifying round starts on January 14 and the main draw is set to begin six days later. No smoke-related stoppages had been made at the ATP Cup in Sidney, Brisbane and Perth at the time of writing, however, the Canberra challenger event was moved to Bendigo some 450km away. Various football and basketball matches had also been cancelled.

Novak Djokovic is 13/8 to win the men’s singles with Ladbrokes, who are offering 7/2 on Rafael Nadal and 8/1 on Roger Federer. Bet365 have placed odds of 10/1 on Daniil Medvedev while Stefanos Tsitsipas is 12/1 with Marathon Bet. If you’re unsure of which sportsbook you should place your bets with, there is a list of recommended bookmakers by available.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams is the favourite to win the women’s singles at 11/2 with Betfair. Her 2019 US Open final opponent and eventual winner Bianca Andreescu is 7/1 with Betvictor while Betfred have 8/1 odds going on Naomi Osaka and the same on Ashleigh Barty.

Barty, Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios are among players who have pledged to assist with relief efforts in Australia.

"The inordinate loss of people, wildlife, stock, homes, schools and businesses is going to require an extraordinarily widespread effort to get these families and communities back on their feet," Tiley added. "Our aim is for tennis to play a significant role where we can to help that recovery."