By Jason Samenow
14 January 2014
(Washington Post) – A controversy is simmering Down Under over blistering temperatures and the safety of tennis players at the Australian Open, played in Melbourne.
“The Canadian Frank Dancevic slammed Australian Open organisers for forcing players to compete in “inhumane” conditions after he collapsed on court as temperatures rose to 41C (108F) on Tuesday,” reports the Guardian.
Triple digit heat is expected at the Open for three more days, promising to crush the previous tournament record (for average temperature) of 94 degrees from 2009 (according to ESPN). These temperatures are 10-20 degrees above normal.
“What is unusual about this event … is that when high maximum temperatures and above average minimum temperatures are sustained over a number of days, there is a build-up of ‘excess’ heat,” said Alasdair Hainsworth of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. ”When average conditions are exceeded over a period of time by continuously high night-time and day-time temperatures, heat stress becomes a critical factor in human survival…”
Despite the extreme heat, officials have stopped short of suspending play.
“Of course there were a few players who experienced heat-related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match,” Tim Wood, the tournament’s chief medical officer, said in a statement published in the Guardian. [more]