As the Australian Open commenced on January 14, 2020, in Melbourne, the sky was coated in a thick haze as a result of the smoke from the raging wildfires in Australia’s southeast region. The air quality was calculated to be somewhere in between the "very poor" to “hazardous” range and went to being “the worst in the world” overnight. But despite the hazardous situation, tennis players were pressed to play even as they dropped to their knees, struggling to breathe.

The raging wildfires have led to an extreme spike in Melbourne’s pollution level and even residents were advised to stay indoors and keep the windows closed. And yet the Australian Open went on, without paying any heed to the well-being of its players. 

Slovenian tennis player, Dalila Jakupovic was seen dropping to her knees in a coughing fit during the qualifying match and said that it was “not fair” that she was asked to play even as the smoke from the wildfires clogged the air. 

“I was really scared that I would collapse," Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic told The Associated Press. "I never had breathing problems. I actually like heat. But ... I just couldn't breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor."

Another player, former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard was pressed to win when she asked for medical assistance during her qualifying match. Having a hard time breathing in his match, Australia's Bernard Tomic also requested a medical timeout. 

Following the wildfires, the Australian Open had assured that it will be using onsite data and would surely consult its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from the state’s Environment Protection Authority before going ahead with the matches. "As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority," the statement said. But all they did was suspend the practice sessions temporarily on January 14 and they still went ahead with the qualifying matches. 

Thus the tournament organizers are facing some heat by players for not suspending the matches

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina tweeted, "Why do we need to wait for something bad to happen to do an action [sic]" adding a screenshot of Melbourne's air quality index.

"I feel sorry for the players who have to deal with that," wrote Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. "Can #AusOpen play all the matches under the roof or indoor in that case?!"