“We can’t let this go. The controversy has swelled, this Thursday in Melbourne, among players forced to compete in the qualifications of the Australian Open tennis in an air made unbreathable by the fires which ravage the south-east Australia.
Usually celebrated as one of the most pleasant cities to live on the planet, the capital of the State of Victoria was considered, notably on Tuesday, as one of the most polluted in the world. The municipal authorities had themselves spoken of “dangerous” conditions due to the smoke from the fires, advising residents to “stay inside, doors and windows closed”.
But the organizers of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season (whose final draw will begin on Monday) nevertheless chose to maintain the qualifications on the program. On Tuesday, Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to give up in the middle of the match after suffering from violent coughing fits on the court. And many players have needed inhalers to relieve their respiratory distress.
VIDEO. Australian Open player quits because of fire smoke
“The more I think about the conditions in which we played a few days ago, the more I get angry,” wrote Briton Liam Broady on Twitter on Thursday, saying that “multiple” players had taken asthma medication, when they had never suffered from this disease before.
“Where’s the protection for the players?” “
Wednesday evening thunderstorms cleared the noxious fumes and qualifying continued Thursday without incident. But the damage is done to Broady, 234th player in the world, who does not take heart two days after being released by the Belarusian Ilya Ivashka.
He notably lambasted the email of ATP and the organizers of the Australian Open justifying their decision to play the matches. “We can’t let this go. The email we received yesterday was like a slap in the face, the conditions were playable. Were they healthy ? “Asked the 26-year-old Briton.
“The day I played, the people of Melbourne had received instructions to keep their animals inside. And yet, we were expected to perform a high intensity physical effort outside! “What should we do to create a players’ union?” Where is the protection of players, men and women? “
Released by Austrian Dennis Novak on Wednesday, when the air quality had improved but remained poor, the German Dustin Brown seemed to go in the same direction as Broady. “In 35 years, it was the first time that I had to use an asthma spray to help me breathe better,” he wrote.
“We will not let that pass,” warned on his side on Twitter the Canadian Vasek Pospisil, 146th at ATP. Luxembourger Mandy Minella, 140th player in the world, said she was “shocked” by the maintenance of the matches.
Tennis stars train under cover
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley brushed off criticism, saying the decision to play was made after expert consultation.
The tennis stars were not affected, most of them training at the Rod Laver Arena with the roof closed. And no big name has come up to protest that the qualifications take place outdoors in a foul atmosphere.
“We let so many things go wrong during the tours. But there is a time when you have to say it, said Liam Broady. All players should be protected, not just a few handpicked. “