Wildfire smoke forced tennis players to withdraw from Australian Open matches

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Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

Athletes at the Australian Open are breathing in poor-quality air polluted by bushfire smoke, making it nearly impossible for them to do their jobs. Dalila Jakupovic, ranked 210 in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association, withdrew from her qualifying match yesterday after smoke sent her into a coughing fit. Maria Sharapova’s match was abandoned after two hours of play in smoky air, and Novak Djokovic said before the start of the tournament that delaying the competition until the air cleared might be necessary, albeit as a last resort.

Questions over appropriate air quality conditions for professional sports have been ongoing since at least the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which had the highest levels of air pollution of any measured…

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