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Legal, Sport Recreation

Monash experts: Australian Open extreme heat policy and game scheduling concerns

Monash University 2 mins read

As the weather begins to warm up in Melbourne Monash University experts are available to comment on the Australian Open’s extreme heat policy and what measures are in place to keep players, ground staff and spectators safe. 

Dr Eric Windholz, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University
Contact: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more from Dr Windholz on Monash Lens

The following can be attributed to Dr Windholz:

“The Australian Open has always been associated with extreme heat. There was a time when light was made of it, with different people over time frying eggs on centre court.

“However, it is a serious health and safety issue – not only for players, but also for the umpires, line people, ball kids, the many employees and volunteers that make the Open possible, and the spectators that attend.

“Tennis Australia, as organisers of the Australian Open, and the managers of the venue, the Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust, owe duties to these persons to take reasonably practicable measures to provide them with a safe environment, and not to expose them to risks to their health. Breach of these duties is an offence under Victoria's occupational health and safety laws.

“Central to discharging this duty with respect to players and on court officials is the Australian Open's extreme heat policy. It employs a five point heat stress scale with corresponding risk mitigation measures ranging from increased hydration (scale 2), to cooling strategies (3), extended breaks in play (4), and the suspension of play (5).

“For other persons at the Open, organisers provide a range of heat reduction measures including free water fountains, increased shade and cool mist blowers.

“The challenges of managing extreme heat will only increase for the Australian Open – indeed all summer sports – as climate change results in more days of extreme temperatures. It is an area with respect to which sports need to be proactive and forward thinking.”

Dr Tom Heenan, Lecturer, Sport and Australian Studies in the Monash Intercultural Lab, Faculty of Arts
Contact: +61 439 047 118 or tom.heenan@monash.edu
Read more of Dr Heenan’s commentary at Monash Lens

The following can be attributed to Dr Heenan:

“Of all the events on the Australian sporting calendar, the Australian Open is the one that faces the greatest challenges from climate change. With heat a major health issue in the summer months, a boutique lager, slickly marketed sauvignon blanc or top-end bottle of water will not do the trick.

“It may be that a trip to the Open will need to be accompanied by a health warning on the dangers of heat stress. The outside courts, in particular, are oppressive heat trappers. Inevitably, Tennis Australia will need to reschedule the tournament to a more climate friendly time of the year, or at least transform the event-site into a more comfortable setting for players and fans alike.”

For more Monash media stories visit our news & events site: monash.edu/news

For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu 

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