A report for the Australian Conservation Foundation says that the Australian Open should be moved in order to avoid extreme heat risks for the players, according to Yahoo Sports. The issue has come under focus once again after the smoke from the ongoing bushfire crisis enveloped Melbourne and affected play during the qualifying tournament earlier this week.
According to the article, "researchers have said that health risks and match disruptions are an increasing risk because of climate change and that the event should adapt to protect players." The report said Tennis Australia could take the lead in making a statement to the world on climate action and in order to safeguard the event by moving the tournament.
One option provided is to hold the event in November or March although that would certainly disrupt the tennis calendar. Another option is to move the event by one week, which would reduce tournament play during the hottest part of the year but they add that due to the school holidays in Victoria ending after the current tournament dates, any change on those lines could affect the ticket sales for the event.
The report also notes the effect that bushfire smoke can have on players, impacting their performance and long-term health. While the tournament has taken steps to introduce and update its heat policy on a regular basis and it also came out with its own air quality policy this week due to the smoky conditions in Melbourne, several players have criticized the lack of communication from the tournament and being forced to play in conditions which were not suitable.
Craig Tiley, the Tournament Director, says that they are working with the best medical experts and will ensure that play will be held only in optimal conditions as per the new air quality policy.