Australian tennis tourney

A professional tennis tournament scheduled to take place in Canberra next week has been moved to the city of Bendigo because of the likelihood of disruption caused by smoke from the bushfires raging around southeast Australia.

Hundreds of wildfires have scorched more than four million hectares (10 million acres) of bushland and destroyed over 1,000 homes over the last few months, including 381 homes destroyed on the south coast just this week.

Hazardous smoke from the fires forced the abandonment of a Big Bash Twenty20 cricket match in the nation’s capital on December 21 and organisers, anticipating similar disruption, have decided to move the Canberra Tennis International.

“The health of players, fans, volunteers, staff and stakeholders is our biggest priority at all times,” Tennis ACT chief executive Kim Kachel said in a statement.

“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.”

The tournament, which is a stop on both the men’s ATP Challenger tour and the women’s ITF Futures tour, will form part of the preparations for lowly ranked players competing at the Australian Open, which takes place in Melbourne from January 20.

The inaugural edition of a higher profile team tennis event, the A$22 million ($15.36 million) ATP Cup, began yesterday in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. – Reuters

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