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People bake in the heat at this year's Australian Open. (Leonie Bourke)

It’s So Hot They Had to Suspend the Australian Open Because Players Were Passing Out

Australia is getting hotter, creating dangerous conditions for everyone

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The Australian Open, one of the world's premiere tennis tournaments, is supposed to be taking place right now. But a powerful heat wave in Melbourne and the surrounding area has forced play to be suspended after players started getting sick.

Temperatures in Melbourne are hitting as high as 109 F, says the Associated Press, which makes for a not-so-great time when you're supposed to be running around on a tennis court.

American Varvara Lepchenko received medical treatment during her match against 11th-seeded Romanian Simona Halep, lying flat on her back during a changeover as trainers rubbed iced on her body.

...On Tuesday, Canadian Frank Dancevic blacked out and hallucinated during his match, while China's Peng Shuai vomited and suffered cramps.

Last year around this time it got so hot in Australia that the Bureau of Meteorology had no way of representing the burning sensation that was steadily creeping across the country. Just to be able to express to everyone how hot it was the Bureau had to add a new color to their temperature maps—a burning purple to handle the 122 to 129 F range. Last year was the hottest year ever recorded in Australia, but this year is no slouch.

The heat wave that is baking Australia's southern states is threatening more than just tennis, though—hundreds of fires, says the BBC, have already popped up across the country. 

“Although bushfires are a risk to humans in Australia,” says New Scientist, “heat itself is a bigger killer, says Jim McLennan of La Trobe University in Melbourne. Australia's worst bushfires in 2009 killed 173 people, he says, but more than twice that number died because of the associated heat wave."

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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