3 January 2020

FFA, Tennis Australia, WNBL call off Canberra sport due to hazardous air quality

| Dominic Giannini
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Smoke at Old Parliament House

Looking towards Old Parliament House through the smoke that heralded the first day of 2020. Photo: Region Media.

Safety concerns have forced various sporting associations to cancel games in the ACT this weekend with air quality levels remaining hazardous across the Territory.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has postponed Sunday’s W-League game between Canberra United and Sydney FC, as well as the Y-League game between Canberra United and the Newcastle Jets scheduled for Sunday.

The announcement comes less than 24-hours after Canberra United announced that today’s (3 January) training had been moved to Sydney because of the hazardous air quality.

FFA policy is that “if the Air Quality Index (AQI) reading is above 150 but under 200 then the call is made by the Team Medical Doctors on ground in consultation with the match commissioner as the AQI can be very localised and change quickly with wind direction”.

The Apis Canberra International has also been moved out of Canberra because of hazardous air quality levels, with Tennis Australia and Tennis ACT taking the unprecedented step of relocating the competition to Bendigo.

Tennis ACT CEO Kim Kachel said the decision was made after lengthy consultation with local authorities.

“The health of players, fans, volunteers, staff and stakeholders is our biggest priority at all times,” Kachel said.

“Unfortunately, the best advice from the weather and fire experts is that the conditions over the next few days mean it is unlikely there would be any play. With conditions too unpredictable, the decision was made to relocate at the earliest available opportunity.”

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said the decision to relocate the tournament was made on the most up-to-date information available.

“We know how important the tournament is for players preparing to play at the Australian Open and the decision to move the tournament from Canberra to Bendigo has been made to ensure they can still compete,” he said.

The Women’s National Basketball League also made the decision to cancel this round’s game between the UC Capitals and the Perth Lynx, which was set for the AIS Arena on Sunday.

The Head of Women in Basketball, Lauren Jackson, said the decision was made in the best interest of the fans, players and officials.

“We understand that it is disappointing to have had to cancel the game, but after multiple discussions with both clubs and the league, the decision was the most appropriate and safest course of action,” Jackson said.

General manager of the UC Capitals Lucille Bailie said the team was looking forward to playing at AIS Arena again, but the safety of the players and fans comes first.

“The smoke covering Canberra has been severe and knowing the weather conditions are only expected to worsen this weekend, we trust that this is the best decision for everyone,” Bailie said.

“We hope Canberra will be able to enjoy our game against Perth on another date when the air quality has improved, and we look forward to seeing our supporters at our next home game.”

The ACT Health Directorate says there has been a deterioration of air quality across Canberra from the smoke, and are advising all Canberrans to minimise their levels of prolonged or heavy physical activity outdoors and to avoid all physical activity outdoors when there is heavy smoke in the area.

More information from ACT Health on staying healthy in the heat can be found here.

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