World number two Novak Djokovic has stated that the calendar year's inaugural grand slam, Australian Open, might have to be postponed by a few days so that the players' health is not affected. The Serbian's comments come at the backdrop of the wildfires in Australia that have been raging for months and have resulted in huge loss to life and property.
Djokovic, who is the President of the ATP Players' Council, said that there was a possibility of postponement and it had to be considered. “You have to consider it because of some extreme weather or conditions. That’s probably the very, very last option. (But) if it comes down to ...the conditions affecting the health of players, you have to consider it."
He added that his team is speaking to Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley regarding the same. "People from my team have spoken to Craig Tiley, they are obviously tracking the situation every day as it is evolving. If it continues the same way and quality of air is affected in Sydney I think Tennis Australia will be forced to create some rules about it. It is tough for them because the schedule has to be respected, the Australian Open starts at a certain time so there are a lot of things involved. But a health concern is a health concern for anybody."
The wildfires in Australia have lead to thousands of people losing their homes and more than 450 million animals have lost their lives. Around 20 people have lost their lives and Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister has been facing criticism for going on a holiday with his family and not taking enough steps to solve the issue.
Tennis officials last week took the unprecedented decision to relocate the Canberra International — an ATP Challenger 125 event and on the women's ITF World Tennis Tour, which serves as a stepping stone to the full tour. They said play would not have been possible in the Australian capital which has been choked by smoke, with the tournament now due to start Monday at Bendigo in Victoria.
On Saturday, the government announced that 3,000 Army, Navy and Air Force reservists will be deployed to battle against the fires. A commitment of $14 million to leasing fire-fighting aircraft from overseas was also made.