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New AusOpen heat policy informed by University of Sydney research

14 January 2019
Cutting-edge research informs new heat policy
A new extreme heat policy is being introduced at the Australian Open this year, the result of a research collaboration between Tennis Australia and the University of Sydney.

The collaboration saw Tennis Australia medical personnel work closely with the University of Sydney’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory to test the specific effects of heat stress on tennis players and has led to the development of the Australian Open Heat Stress Scale.

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said his team was constantly looking for ways to improve the conditions for the players.

“The well-being of all players at the Australian Open is our utmost priority and we have developed the Australian Open Heat Stress Scale after months of research and testing,” Tiley said.

Staff from the Thermal Ergonomics Lab at the 2019 Australian Open

Staff from the Thermal Ergonomics Lab working at the 2019 AusOpen

"The AO Heat Stress Scale ranges from one to five with specific recommendations associated with each step of the scale – one denoting temperate playing conditions and five the suspension of play.

“Under the updated policy, 10-minute breaks can also be introduced into men’s singles matches for the first time.”

Director of the University of Sydney’s Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory Associate Professor Ollie Jay said under the AO Heat Stress Scale four key climate factors will be measured during the tournament to determine heat stress.

“The strength of the sun, known as radiant heat, air temperature in the shade, relative humidity, and wind speed will be measured across five locations within the Australian Open precinct,” said Associate Professor Jay of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre.

 

“This new technology and information will give a much more robust picture of the conditions than the previous Wet Bulb Globe Temperature readings from the Bureau of Meteorology.”

“The AO Heat Stress Scale takes advantage of the latest medical research into the effects of heat on the human body including the maximum heat stress an athlete can safely withstand, the sweat rate of that person and their core temperature,” added Tennis Australia Chief Medical Officer Dr Carolyn Broderick.

“The scale also accounts for the physiological variances between adults, wheelchair and junior athletes while also taking into account the four climate factors which affect a player’s ability to disperse heat from their body.”

The 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis tournament will take place at Melbourne Park from 14 to 27 January.

Michelle Blowes

Media and PR Adviser (Health)

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