Connor: “Global warming has been described as putting weather on steroids, and in Australia, we are a country of extreme weather.”

Australia Tennis Open 2014 athlete heat stress
Medics tend to Frank Dancevic (Canada), who fainted during the Australia 2014 Tennis Open.

That’s John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute, an Australian think tank. He says that by intensifying Australia’s already extreme weather, climate change is threatening the viability of its sports, such as soccer, cricket, and tennis.

Connor: “Perhaps the most dramatic was the Australian Tennis Open of last year where we actually had players passing out from the heat.”

To better adapt to conditions like extreme heat and flooding, many Australian sports organizations are updating their facilities. For example, new elite venues often include costly adaptations such as retractable roofs and raised flooring.

But many amateur clubs and community facilities are struggling to compensate. So Connor hopes temperature rules will be put in place to help protect the safety of all athletes who are exposed to the elements.

Connor: “Local administrators are very often volunteers and very, rarely have the skills or training to be able to implement when to call time out if the heat gets too much.”

As the climate continues to warm, such precautions will become increasingly important for athletes not only in Australia, but around the world.


Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: video screenshot.
Chart source:

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Sport & Climate Impacts: How much heat can sport handle

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...