AUSTRALIA: A thick layer of smoke engulfed the picturesque Melbourne as players participating in the qualifying rounds of Australian Open 2020 lodged safety complaints and some abandoned their matches.

Organizers had gone ahead with the qualifiers schedule despite the hazardous air quality in the otherwise crystal-clear Melbourne, but very soon international players were seen choking and coughing on the courts with Slovenian player Dalila Jakupović retiring from the event in protest.

Mahut posted a mask-covered photo on social media complaining about the safety issues and was soon joined by a number of athletes as qualifying matches were delayed.

There are forecasts of heavy rains in the region from Wednesday onwards and it is hoped that air will be cleared to some extent as a result.

The 2020 Australian Open is themed around fire relief efforts with a number of prominent players announcing to donate their prize purse to the emergency services and NGOs working in the fire affected areas.

The Australian bushfires of unprecedented intensity, have destroyed millions of hectares of forest area in recent weeks and have claimed dozens of human and 500 million animal lives along with billions of dollars in property damage.

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