SYDNEY – The high air pollution levels recorded in Melbourne on Monday as a result of the bushfires raging across Australia were affecting players in the Australian Open.
Serbian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her qualifying match at Melbourne Park against Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele after a coughing fit.
Jakupovic, who requested medical assistance for breathing difficulties during the match, fell to her knees at the end of the second set, after she had won the first set, and needed to be helped off the court.
On Air Visual, a website that tracks air quality across the globe, some parts of Melbourne recorded “very unhealthy” pollution with levels of particulate matter 2.5 reaching 361, associated with higher risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, according to the World Health Organization.
Other tennis players, including Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and China’s Xiandi You, were also affected by the poor air quality in Melbourne, according to local media reports.
The authorities of the city, which is the capital of the state of Victoria, ordered the closure of outdoor pools and some beaches and canceled horse races, among other measures.
Australia is facing one of the worst bushfires in its history.
Since September, fires in the country have ravaged more than 80,000 square kilometers – an area larger than Ireland – and left 27 people dead, as well as an estimated 1 billion wild animals.