The Australian Open 2020 got disrupted for the second consecutive day because of the poor air quality. The smoke from the bushfires has formed a blanket over Melbourne. The organisers stated that the practice has been stopped for the time being till 11 am (0000 GMT) and qualifiers will not start before 1 pm.

The country is witnessing one of the worst bushfires in history as the fire has been devastating lives for months. Till now 28 people have lost their lives, 2500 homes have been destroyed. Forests and farmland as big as the size of Bulgaria has also been destroyed.

Australian Open
Australian Open trophy YouTube grab

Qualifying was delayed for more than an hour on Tuesday but organisers were criticised for allowing it to resume, with Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic forced to retire after suffering a coughing fit during her match.

"Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored and further decisions will be made using the onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria," governing body Tennis Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.

Play and practice at regional tournaments in Traralgon and Bendigo, along with a junior event at Royal Park in Melbourne, had also been suspended, it added.

Scheduled horse race meetings in two separate Melbourne suburbs were also cancelled on Wednesday, governing body Racing Victoria said, "due to smoke haze and poor air quality".

Races in Melbourne's western suburb of Werribee were scrapped a day earlier.

Wildfire
Wildfire Pixabay

Air quality is expected to improve later on Wednesday when rain showers are forecast but the weather is likely to cause more delays to the Australian Open schedule, creating further headaches for organisers.

Bushfire smoke has affected a number of elite sporting competitions involving soccer, rugby league and cricket, and the pollution has raised fears for player safety at Melbourne Park, with the tournament starting on Monday.

While TA has said they were consulting experts, Victoria state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the governing body should establish a proper air quality policy along with its existing extreme heat policy to determine whether conditions are fit for play.

"They do have a heat policy, I think they need to plan out an air quality policy in the same way," he told local media.

"We're all trying to work out the best approach and there's no 'one size fits all'.

"You can't have a blanket solution, you need to look at the individual circumstances and what the alternatives are for protecting people."

(With inputs from agency)