Australian Open Tennis 2018: Money and TV still beats health and safety

Playing and working in heat is “hot topic” in the media for at least a few days every year at the Australian Open Tennis.  It affects players but also other people working and volunteering at the tennis; umpires, line umpires and children “working” as ball retrievers and ferrying sweaty towels to and fro the players.

Sports Medicine Australia publish heat guidelines summarized below.

Tennis Australia used to publish policies – now it just seems to say that “policies are in place”.  Both use the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index.  Tennis Australia also used regular “dry bulb”.

The Sports Medicine Australia guidelines say at 30 WBGT to consider postponement as the risk is extreme.  But Tennis Australia raise this to 32.5 WBGT – AND – it has to be above 40C as well.

Moving the goalposts is obviously more convenient for the conduct of the tournament but is it safe/reasonable to operate outside the guidelines?

Gael Monfils 2018

Image: Herald Sun

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Sports Medicine Australia: Tennis Australia:
>20 WBGT


Moderate to high risk No guideline.

Don’t worry mate, act cool?


>26 WBGT


High to very high risk

Risk of thermal injury is high/very high.  Limit intensity.  Limit duration to less than 60 minutes per session.

No guideline.

Don’t worry mate, act cool?


>30 WBGT Extreme risk

Risk of thermal injury is extreme.  Consider postponement to a cooler part of the day or cancellation.

No guideline.

Don’t worry mate, act cool?


>32.5 WBGT AND  >40 celcius Extreme risk

As above

“Policies are in place”

>32.5WBGT combined with >40C

“Policies are in place”.  Whatever they are.  The policies used to be public.


About John Culvenor

Hi, Thank you for taking a look at this blog. I work in engineering, ergonomics, creativity, design, training, etc. Often this is about helping solve legal puzzles through accident analysis. Sometimes it is about thinking up better designs for equipment, workplaces, and systems. This blog is about good design and bad design, accident analysis and how it can be done better, and how we can make a better, safer world by design!
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