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Australian Open organisers on alert for return of bushfire smoke

Credit: Reuters - Sports
Published on January 21, 2020 - Duration: 01:31s
British star Johanna Konta says conditions in Melbourne haven't been ideal
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Australian Open organisers on alert for return of bushfire smoke

VIDEO SHOWS: SOUNDBITE FROM JOHANNA KONTA ON AIR QUALITY CONDITIONS IN MELBOURNE / STILLS OF MELBOURNE SHOWS: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 15, 2020) (AAP IMAGE/DAVID CROSLING/VIA REUTERS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

NO RESALES.

NO ARCHIVE.

AUSTRALIA OUT.

NEW ZEALAND OUT.) (MUTE) 1.

SMOKE HAZE SEEN OVER MELBOURNE PARK, VENUE OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 14, 2020) (AAP IMAGE/DAVID CROSLING/VIA REUTERS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

NO RESALES.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO USE AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND) (MUTE) 2.

SKYLINE IN SMOKE HAZE AS SEEN FROM MELBOURNE PARK MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 17, 2020) (TENNIS AUSTRALIA - FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO RESALES) 3.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH TENNIS PLAYER JOHANNA KONTA SAYING: "Today it's nice but definitely when the air hasn't been good it really hasn't been good and it's not ideal and it wouldn't be ideal to play in it, that's for sure.

I was practicing on Tuesday and it was quite bad and you can definitely feel the lack of oxygen or the the different content in the air.

It's not a healthy environment to play in but then again it's one of those things, it's just the reality of our situation right now." MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 15, 2020) (AAP IMAGE/DAVID CROSLING/VIA REUTERS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

NO RESALES.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO USE AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND) (MUTE) 4.

STILL OF SMOKEY HAZE OVER MELBOURNE SEEN FROM EUREKA TOWER MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 14, 2020) (AAP IMAGE/DAVID CROSLING/VIA REUTERS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

NO RESALES.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO USE AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND) (MUTE) 5.

SMOKE HAZE SEEN IN MELBOURNE AS ROWERS PADDLE ON YARRA RIVER MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 17, 2020) (TENNIS AUSTRALIA - FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO RESALES) 6.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH TENNIS PLAYER JOHANNA KONTA SAYING: "I believe therew asn't enough information circulated until Wednesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I think it was also difficult for Tennis Australia foe the Australian Open to be able to deal with this so quickly, it's not something I believe, or to my knowledge, that they've experienced before and definitely I've never experienced it while playing this tournament." MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 14, 2020) (AAP IMAGE/DAVID CROSLING/VIA REUTERS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

NO RESALES.

NO ARCHIVE.

NO USE AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND) (MUTE) 7.

MORNING COMMUTERS WALK THROUGH SMOKE HAZE STORY: Cool temperatures and smoke-free skies gave Australian Open organisers a second day of reprieve on Friday (January 17) and they will keep their fingers crossed that the haze stays away for the final weekend of preparations for the multi-billion dollar tournament.

The year's first Grand Slam begins in earnest on Monday, but organisers have already come in for severe criticism after letting qualifying continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, with noxious smoke shrouding Melbourne Park.

Fears the smoke would return on Saturday for the final round of qualifying eased on Friday, when the Environmental Protection Agency downgraded the forecast for air quality in the Melbourne area from "very poor" to "moderate".

Several of those who played on Tuesday and Wednesday suffered breathing problems, with Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic forced to retire after a coughing fit.

Britiish 12th seed Johanna Konta, whose first-round match against Tunisian Ons Jabeur will not take place until Tuesday, said she was uncertain whether she would be able to play if conditions resembled those of earlier this week.

On Friday organisers released full details of their Air Quality Policy.

A discussion over play being suspended would be held when the pollution exceeded set levels detected by the monitoring stations at Melbourne Park.

If play was suspended on the three stadium courts, the roof of the arena would be closed until the air quality reached a suitable level.

Torrential downpours in affected areas since midweek have helped contain the fires but many still blaze, with the possibility of more acrid smoke being blown towards Melbourne.

(Production: Jim Hatley)

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