Australian Open to go 'ahead as scheduled' amid concerns over bushfire haze

The Australian Open is "going ahead as scheduled" despite air quality worries, tournament director Craig Tiley said.

Australian Open   -  Getty Images

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley insisted the year's first grand slam would go ahead "as scheduled", but the air quality in Melbourne will be monitored.

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months, leading to a smoky haze covering Victoria's capital on certain days.

But Tiley expects the year's opening major to go ahead as planned, beginning on January 20, while organisers keep an eye on air quality.

READ| Smoke delays unlikely at Australian Open, say organisers

"Everything is going ahead as scheduled," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We will continue to work closely with not only the Bureau of Meteorology but also medical experts to ensure what we've always said – that the safety of the players, our fans and our staff are of the utmost importance and our primary objective each time.

"The one thing I will remind everyone is we do have three stadium roofs where we have a controlled environment so play will always continue.

"It will come under our extreme heat policy approach and what will be new is we'll also have some real-time monitoring on-site.

"You currently can get air quality monitoring just generally over a 24-hour period just by going to a website, but we'll be more detailed with it and bring it on site."

READ| A second-hand event: Maria Sharapova questions Brisbane court allocation

 

Tennis stars have rallied to raise funds for those impacted by the bushfires, while an exhibition event will be held in Melbourne on January 15.

Tiley revealed Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were among those who had agreed to play at the event.

"Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas have all agreed to participate on Wednesday night," he said.

"We will be, over the course of the coming days, announcing additional players. We're going to try and get more out onto the court and for about two and a half hours we're going to be showcasing the game but also coming together as a community to play our part in the relief effort."

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