The tournament organizers at the Australian Open have created a retractable roof system. The system has been installed in order to prevent delays in case of heat and rain; because the Australian Open is one of the biggest events of tennis and is watched by millions of people around the world.
With the tournament held in the middle of the famed ‘Australian Summer’, rising temperatures make things difficult. With rains also arriving unexpectedly at times, the retractable roof comes in handy on the big courts to not have much delays.
The first retractable roof system at the Australian Open was introduced way back in 1988 and it cost almost$60 million. This was quite an investment but it proved to be very useful. This is why all the other Grand Slams have now incorporated the same at their main stadiums.
The retractable roof system had been used extensively in 2020. At the time, the air in Australia was becoming harmful due to the unfortunate incident of bushfires in the country that damaged the environment. Thanks to the roof system; the event was a grand success last year with a record attendance of 812,000.
Noting the advantages of it, the roof has been kept on standby at all times. On Day 2 of the2023 Australian Open, rising temperatures meant matches were stopped for the safety of players. All the outdoor courts saw matches being stopped but the Rod Laver Arena and other big courts continued playing under the roof. The day saw 11 matches getting suspended of which nine did not even start due to the soaring temperatures.
When can the Roof be closed?
There are conditions for when the roof can be closed. The obvious one is during rain but it could also be closed when there is extreme heat. At the 2019 Australian Open, the organizers implemented the heat stress scale. This scale starts at 1 and ends at 5 which would mean suspension of play.
After this, the tournament referee can close the roof for the remainder in order to protect the health of the players. If a match begins with the roof closed, it will remain closed for the entire match even if the weather improves. If the scale touches 4, players are permitted a 10-minute break. They can then decide whether to stay on the court or use the shower to cool down.
How long does it take for the Roof to close?
Once it is decided that the roof is to be closed, it begins to move at 1.3 meters per minute. This means that it will take 20 minutes for it to cover the entire stadium which is quite fast.
The Melbourne Slam is the only one to have more than 2 stadiums with this system. The retractable roof system is featured in 3 stadiums at the Australian Open – the Rod Laver Arena, the Margaret Court Arena, and the John Cain Arena.
Nihar Khopkar often journals his thoughts which has helped him develop a keen interest in writing. He is highly driven by sports and is a graduate in Sports Management who currently covers tennis for FirstSportz. An ambivert, who is a die-hard lover of Cristiano Ronaldo & Rafa Nadal.
FirstSportz is the First Stop for all sports fanatics. Starting in 2019, we initially covered Olympic Sports, but in 2021 we added every other sport which you might be looking for, like NFL, Golf, MLB, WWE Cricket, Football, Tennis, Esports, NBA, MMA and more.