Australian Open: The bad air is so dangerous for tennis players

    Updated January 16, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

    The Melbourne Open is currently qualifying for the Australian Open. The poor air quality due to the bush fires is difficult for the athletes. A sports doctor describes the continuation of the competition as “irresponsible”.

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    Before the start of the first main round of the Australian Open on Monday (January 20), the external conditions cause major problems. Due to the ongoing bush fires in Australia, the air quality is so poor that games had to be broken off during the qualification.

    For example, the Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to give up after a coughing fit. The game of the German Laura Siegemund ended prematurely after almost two hours.

    Continuation of the Australian Open is “irresponsible”

    For sports physician Herbert Löllgen, a continuation of the competition is “irresponsible” under these circumstances. In his opinion, the competitions should be canceled immediately due to air pollution.

    “They are medically unacceptable,” the cardiologist told our editorial team. At least rain was forecast for the coming days. You should definitely wait for this.

    Playing sports under such bad conditions could lead to heart, vascular and lung damage in athletes. These could be both acute and chronic.

    The measure by the city of Melbourne, which had instructed citizens to keep windows and doors closed and to refrain from outdoor activities, shows that the air situation is problematic.

    The whole thing is even more dangerous for athletes. Because of the physical exertion, they breathed significantly more than people who, for example, only walked on the street.

    Tournament director Craig Tiley had indicated that the topic had been taken up. In extreme cases, in addition to the three covered stadiums, eight playable indoor courts would also be available nearby.

    But when it got serious on Tuesday, there was nothing to be heard. The organizers initially postponed the training. The qualification started nonetheless, even if it was an hour late.

    About the expert: Prof. Dr Herbert Löllgen was born in Bonn in 1943 and is a sports doctor. In 1979 he habilitated in internal medicine. Since 2008 he has been a cardiologist in a practice group in Remscheid. From 2006 to 2012 he was president of the German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention (DGSP).

    With material from dpa

    The qualifiers and training sessions within the Australian Open have been temporarily interrupted due to poor air quality. The smoke from the bush fires raging in Australia enveloped the venue in a thick, gray haze.


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