Novak Djokovic says that the option of postponing this year’s Australian Open must be considered as bushfires continued to sweep the country.
Latest reports claim that over 200 fires are currently burning in New South Wales and Victoria, with the first smoke of the crisis hitting Melbourne – the home of the Australian Open – this week.
And, with air quality becoming a serious concern, Djokovic has asked tournament chiefs to be open-minded about what would be an unprecedented decision.
“You have to consider it because of some extreme weather or conditions,” Djokovic explained in Brisbane, where he is representing Serbia at the ATP Cup. “But that’s probably the very, very last option.
“I think they are going to try to do everything to [not] delay in terms of days and when it starts.
“But if it comes down to those conditions affecting the health of players, I think we should definitely consider it.”
The situation with the bushfires certainly appears to be on the mind of players, with Djokovic admitting his camp have already been in touch with Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.
“People from my team have spoken to Craig Tiley, they are obviously tracking the situation every day as it is evolving and hopefully coming down with the smoke and fires.
“If it continues the same way and quality of air is affected in Melbourne and Sydney I think Tennis Australia will be forced create some rules about it.
“It is tough for them because the schedule has to be respected, the Australian Open starts at a certain time so there are a lot of different things involved.
“But a health concern is a health concern for me and for anybody.
“I know in China the playing conditions are pretty tough in terms of quality of air but this is something different – I have never had this kind of experience before.
“We will see. I hope it is going to dissipate but if it stays like that, we have a council meeting in a week or 10 days and we will discuss that for sure if the conditions stay the same.”
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