Djokovic delaying the beginning of the Australian suffering from bushfires.

Tennis Champion Novak Djokovic

President of the ATP Player Council says organizers may need to consider delaying the beginning of the Australian Open if Melbourne’s air quality continues to be suffering from bushfires.

Organizers may need to consider delaying the beginning of the Australian Open if Melbourne’s air quality continues to be suffering from bushfires, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic says.

He is one of the ATP Player Council presidents – said he was concerned about potential health issues at Melbourne Park and believed measures may need to be put in place to guard players if the air quality continues to deteriorate.

Djokovic said the ATP Player Council would meet before the season-opening slam to debate options but admitted delaying the beginning may need to be considered.

You have to think about it due to some extreme weather or conditions,” he said after winning his ATP Cup opener against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson on Saturday night. “That’s probably the very, previous option.

“(But) if it comes right down to …the conditions affecting the health of players, you’ve got to think about it.”

Djokovic said his camp had been in close contact with Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley and had been monitoring air quality in not only Melbourne but also Sydney where the ATP Cup finals are scheduled to be held.

“People from my team have spoken to Craig Tiley, they’re obviously tracking things a day because it is evolving,” he said.

If it continues an equivalent way and quality of air is affected in Sydney I feel Tennis Australia is going to be forced to make some rules about it.

“It is hard for them because the schedule has got to be respected, the Australian Open starts at a particular time so there are tons of things involved. But a health concern may be a health concern for anybody.”

Djokovic said he had experienced air quality issues in tournaments in China but admitted the bushfires that had ravaged Australia had created something unprecedented.

“I know in China the playing conditions are very tough in terms of quality of air but this is often something different I even have never had this type of experience before,” he said.

“We will see. I hope it’s getting to dissipate but if it stays like that, we have a council meeting during a week or 10 days and that we will discuss that (air quality measures) needless to say if the conditions stay the same.”

ATP Council vice-president Anderson said he wasn’t sure of what measures would be introduced to guard players from poor air quality. But he hinted at an air quality index getting used at Sydney’s ATP Cup Finals and therefore the Australian Open as a gauge to point whether it had been safe for players to compete.

First and foremost it’s been so sad to see everything that has been happening, to see the extent of it (bushfires), Anderson said. A distant second is the air quality and us having the ability to perform. But it’s hazardous. I feel that’s one of the concerns.

Hopefully, it won’t be a problem but if it’s we’ll definitely get to have that conversation about whether it’s dangerous to be out there.

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