- A Slovenian tennis star who was forced to retire from the Australian Open after collapsing because of smoke from the nearby bushfires has hit out at the tournament’s organizers.
- Dalila Jakupovic had a coughing fit late in her qualifying match on Tuesday against Stefanie Voegele and was unable to continue.
- The organizers “said that they checked and that the air was fine,” Jakupovic told CNN, adding, “We are all pissed and a bit disappointed because we thought they would take better care of us.”
- Eugenie Bouchard, Liam Broady, and Bernard Tomic have also had breathing-related issues during qualifying. The tournament’s director, Craig Tiley, has insisted that player safety remains a top priority.
- “The health and well-being of not only the players but the fans and our staff is of utmost importance,” Tiley said, according to The New York Times.
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A Slovenian tennis star who was forced to retire from the Australian Open after collapsing because of smoke from the nearby bushfires has accused the tournament’s organizers of not taking “better care” of its players.
Dalila Jakupovic was leading Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 5-6 in her first-round qualifying match on Tuesday when she had a coughing fit, causing her to double over.
While Jakupovic’s team quickly came to her aid, the 28-year-old, who had already been given a breathing apparatus in the first set, was unable to continue.
Jakupovic told CNN after the match that the tournament organizers “said that they checked and that the air was fine.”
“Obviously this is not pollution, it’s smoke, so it’s a bit different to what we are used to. We play in China, we play in other countries and cities that are polluted, but this is smoke – it’s something that none of us have experienced before.”
She added: “We are all pissed and a bit disappointed because we thought they would take better care of us.”
Awful scenes in Melbourne.
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) January 14, 2020
Jakupovic is not the only player at the tournament to have suffered problems caused by the smoke.
Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, said she had chest pains that felt like spikes in her lungs during her victory over You Xiaodi on Tuesday, according to The New York Times.
Britain’s Liam Broady also told the Daily Mail he was “gasping for air” throughout his tie with Ilya Ivashka, while Australia’s Bernard Tomic sought medical assistance for breathing difficulties.
Despite numerous players’ issues related to the air quality, the tournament’s director, Craig Tiley, has insisted that the health of players and spectators remains a top priority and that extensive testing is ongoing to ensure it is safe to play.
“The health and well-being of not only the players but the fans and our staff is of utmost importance,” Tiley said, according to The Times.
He added that “the long-term forecast and even the short-term forecast is good, and we’ll just take it a day at a time.”
The Australian Open did not immediately reply to Business Insider’s request for comment.
At least 28 people and half a billion animals have died in the bushfires across Australia since July 1, while an estimated 14 million acres of land has been scorched.
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- Serena Williams won her first tennis tournament since 2017 and is donating the $43,000 prize to Australian bushfire relief
- Nick Kyrgios will donate $200 for every ace he serves this summer to the victims of Australia’s bushfire crisis
- A tennis player was forced to abandon an Australian Open match over a coughing fit caused by smoke from bushfires