Melbourne | Broady calls for action
An email was sent by Tennis Australia to players defending their actions with relation to the ‘smoke’ hazard which is affecting the area.
What do we have to do to create a players' union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? On tour we let so many things go that aren't right but at some point we have to make a stand. ALL players need protection not just a select few Liam Broady
The email to ATP members declared “player welfare is utmost in our considerations” and explains how the situation is being dealt with.
It states that a ‘PM2.5’ air quality reading is being taken every four minutes at Melbourne Park and whenever the reading exceeds 200, Tennis Australia says play is suspended, the BBC, who have seen the email, report.
Readings elsewhere in the city last Tuesday suggested the air quality index was over 200, but the email says “no play has taken place at any time above the 200 threshold on the PM2.5 scale” and concludes the “conditions are challenging, but the medical experts say they are acceptable for play”.
The email has incensed Britain’s Liam Broady who described it as a “slap in the face” and made his blood boil that he was made to play his first-round qualifying match on Tuesday when he said he was “gasping for air” as he lost to Belarusian Ilya Ivashka.
Play had earlier been suspended for an hour as Melbourne was blanketed in smoke from the bushfires.
“The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago, the more it boils my blood. We can’t let this slide.
“The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face. Conditions were ‘playable’. Were they ‘healthy’?
“Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?
“What do we have to do to create a players’ union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? On tour we let so many things go that aren’t right but at some point we have to make a stand. ALL players need protection not just a select few.”
Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was the first player to experience the problem when she was forced to retire from her qualifying match after a coughing fit which she says, other players she hasd spoken to, has also breathing difficulties and headaches.
American player Noah Rubin, who lost in the first round of qualifying on Wednesday, said a lot of players felt “disrespected” by the email, which he described as being sent “too late”.
Former Wimbledon junior champion Rubin, 23, says he had “blood and black stuff” coming out of his nose after his match, also complaining of irritated eyes and shortness of breath.
“A lot of players have been feeling it in the throat and eyes.
“The talk between players is about disappointment. A lot are saying they can’t wait to get out of Australia right now and we love playing in Australia.” Rubin said.
“It’s left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths – almost literally.
“We feel awful about what is happening with the fires – it is terrible and obviously there are way worse things – but we’re talking about how are we having a tournament going on, and how do we not know how to go about it? Why can’t we play inside; why are there not emergency things taking place?”
Rubin added he had approached Tennis Australia and the ATP for clarity, accusing them of being defensive when he asked for more communication to be given to the players about why decisions had been made.