Australian bushfires: Tennis legends to headline exhibition match
The likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will headline an exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open 2020. This match will be held to raise money for bushfire relief, organizers said to AFP on Wednesday. Tennis Australia had announced earlier that a fundraising exhibition match at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena will be held. Here's further details.
The exhibition match is set to be held on January 15, the week before the opening Grand Slam of the year. The players were revealed on Wednesday with Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas joining the three legends in the form of Federer, Williams and Nadal. This is a positive move by the organizers in relation to the devastating Australian bushfires.
"For a period of about two-and-a-half hours we're going to be showcasing the game, but also coming together as a community to play our part in the relief effort," said Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.
The devastation has seen a host of athletes pledge money. Tennis star Ashleigh Barty decided to donate her prize money from this week's Brisbane International to the Red Cross. Notably, Aus $1.2 million (US $820,000) has been raised so far from an initiative by tennis chiefs to donate Aus $100 for each ace served during the Australian summer.
There have been fears about smoke haze affecting the Australian Open. However, Tiley said it was unlikely this will happen. "All the information we have at the moment, with qualifying coming up next week, is that the forecast is good, we don't expect any delays and we've implemented additional measures to ensure the Australian Open will be able to run as scheduled," he said.
Australia saw dozens of fires erupting in New South Wales in November and things rapidly spread across the entire continent to become some of the most devastating on record. An area, roughly 15 million acres, has burned already. More than 1,000 houses have been destroyed by the fire. People were forced to evacuate their houses. It is a countrywide catastrophe.
Meanwhile, police have charged at least 24 people for intentionally starting bushfires in the state of New South Wales, according to a statement the New South Wales Police released on Monday. NSW Police have taken legal action against 183 people, 40 of whom are juveniles, for fire-related offenses since November 8. The legal actions range from cautions to criminal charges.