The Australian Open has come under fierce criticism after a female player was sick on court and two other individuals fainted as temperatures hit 41 degrees Celsius (nearly 106 Fahrenheit) under the intense summer sun on Tuesday.
Eurosport reports that Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic—who fainted on court—branded it unfair to the players after suffering heat stroke. The conditions left Dancevic feeling drained after a match that lasted over two hours:
I think it's inhumane, I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out. ...
Having players with so many problems and complaining to the tournament that it's too hot to play, until somebody dies, they're just keep going on with it and putting matches on in this heat.
Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki also spoke of conditions in Australia:
Caroline Wozniacki on the Melbourne heat: "I put a bottle down on the court and the plastic started melting a little bit" #AustralianOpen— tennishead (@tennishead) January 14, 2014
China's Peng Shuai vomited on court during her 5-7, 6-4, 3-6 loss to Japan's Kurumi Nara.
But the tournament's chief medical officer, Tim Wood, says risk to the players' health is not high, via ESPN.
"A lot of people get hot and look distressed," Wood said. "The actual risk to the health is relatively small compared with other sports."
Earlier in the day a ball boy also required medical attention during Milos Raonic's 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
The heat has not proved to be a problem for all, with Wimbledon champion Andy Murray breezing past Japan's Go Soeda in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
However, according to the BBC's Twitter feed, Murray feels that players are at risk if matches are not suspended:
Andy Murray is concerned that "something bad could happen to one of the players" if matches aren't suspended at #AusOpen due to extreme heat— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 14, 2014
In truth, conditions are regularly hot at the Australian Open, and the top players acclimatise their bodies to deal with the problem. However, there will always be a handful who fall foul of the intense heat.
Professional doctors like Wood are convinced the players are not at risk. Therefore, while the heat is undoubtedly uncomfortable, the show must go on despite multiple withdrawals:
The busy tennis schedule, which has Davis Cup ties arranged straight after the Australian Open, ensures tournament organizers are under pressure to get games played. When medics give the green light, there is little other advice officials can go on.
If these problems continue in Australia, maybe the time will come to think about rescheduling, but a delay in action is not the answer right now.