Fires in Australia: the smoke behind the cough that interrupted a championship in Melbourne


The first day of the Australian Open qualifiers was marked by the health consequences generated by the smoke coming from the fires: a player collapsed on the court and retired, another player left the game because he could not breathe, two others players also suffered respiratory problems.

Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had a cough attack on the Melbourne Park court due to poor air quality. In the videos that have circulated in the networks she is seen coughing on her knees and receiving medical attention in the second set of the match against the Swiss Stefanie VOgele. The Australian Bernard Tomic and the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard also had shortness of breath.

Jakupovic, number 180 in the world, was one point away from the set and one point in the playoff in the second set when he suffered breathing difficulties and withdrew from the game, Australian newspaper The Age reported.

“I was very afraid of him collapsing. That’s why I threw myself to the ground, because I couldn’t walk anymore,” he told the Jakupovic newspaper.

Jakupovic said it is not “fair” for tournament organizers to force players to participate in these conditions.

“It’s not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we wouldn’t play today but we don’t have many options,” he told The Age.

Slovenian was not the only one who suffered health consequences from smoke from fires. Tomic needed an inhaler during the second set of his qualifying loss to Denis Kudla. The 27-year-old athlete said he had never had breathing problems.
“It feels like there’s no air coming in. I’m getting tired very easily … I just can’t breathe,” the Australian told The Age.
Something similar said the Canadian Bouchard: “I definitely started to feel bad (…) I don’t have a cough, just heavy air, I have a hard time breathing and when you run out of breath after a long and difficult point, I feel I can’t breathe good and that feeling makes me a little nauseous. ”

The organizers of the Australian Open have not suspended the matches despite the poor air quality and the danger it represents for the players.
According to The Age, tournament director and executive director of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, said the air quality tests in Melbourne Park, and the medical, environmental, scientific and meteorological experts consulted will determine if it is safe to continue with the tournament.
“Like when it’s too hot or when it rains, the game will be suspended if necessary,” said Tiley. “This is a new experience for all of us, the way we handle air quality, and therefore we have to trust those experts who advise us the best way to continue,” he added.

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