Key Australian Open warm-up tournament relocated due to bushfire fears

Australian Open ball

The Apis Canberra International will be relocated to Bendigo because of the Australian bushfires.

The ongoing disaster has seen lives and homes lost and vast areas of land ravaged by fire, with no end yet in sight.

Australia is set to host the start of the new 2020 tennis season on Friday, as the inaugural ATP Cup gets under way in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, with the Australian Open beginning on January 20.

Sydney, where Great Britain play their opening match against Bulgaria on Friday, is the closest ATP Cup venue to the fires and there have been concerns over air quality.

The Challenger event in Canberra, meanwhile, was set to begin on January 6, but a decision has been made to move it following consideration and consultation with the local authorities.

Tennis ACT chief executive Kim Kachel said: “The health of players, fans, volunteers, staff and stakeholders is our biggest priority at all times.

“Unfortunately, the best advice from the weather and fire experts is that the conditions over the next few days mean it is unlikely there would be any play. With conditions too unpredictable the decision was made to relocate at the earliest available opportunity.

“We want to thank the team at the Bendigo Tennis Association for helping us stage this event.”

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley confirmed the governing body acted on the most up-to-date and accurate information available before taking the unprecedented decision to relocate.

“We know how important the tournament is for players preparing to play at the Australian Open and the decision to move the tournament from Canberra to Bendigo has been made to ensure they can still compete,” Tiley said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor the situation across the country and ensure we have the most accurate information to make any decisions about play.

“Our thoughts are with all those communities affected by the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and further announcements regarding fundraising opportunities will be made shortly.”

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