Australian Open 2020: Poor air quality forces player to retire during qualifying
What's the story?
A qualifying match at the Australian Open took a nasty turn today as Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her match after having an intense coughing fit. The incident has raised more concerns as to whether it is safe to play tennis in Melbourne whilst the bushfires still rage across the east coast of Australia.
In case you didn't know...
It was recently reported that Melbourne currently has the worst air quality in the world as a result of the bushfires that are sweeping across the nation. The year's first Grand Slam - the Australian Open - is scheduled to start in Melbourne on 20 January, which means the tournament will take place amid severely unhealthy conditions.
The heart of the matter
Due to the devastating bushfires in Australia, concerns have been raised as to whether the Australian Open should go ahead as scheduled later this month.
The latest episode has reinforced the notion that player safety could be compromised due to the toxic condition of the atmosphere. Previously, Novak Djokovic, who is the head of the ATP Council, had discussed the possibility of postponing the competition due to the health risks.
While all the involved parties would undoubtedly be working tirelessly on finding ways to ensure the safety of the fans and the players, Jakupovic's retirement begs the question as to whether there is anything they can do.
The Slovenian tennis player was quoted as saying, “I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went on to the floor because I couldn’t walk any more.”
“I don’t have asthma and never had breathing problems,” she added.
Although it would be a disappointment for the Australian Open to be postponed or downright cancelled, any loss from that would pale in comparison to the health and safety hazards for the people at the venue.
As things stand, the tournament is slated to go ahead as planned. Nevertheless, as we get closer to the starting date of the Grand Slam, we will get a clearer picture of the air quality in Melbourne and what plans of action the tournament director has implemented to ensure the safety of everyone at the venue.