Tennis and cricket stars from around the world on Friday (December 3) pledged to support the victims of bushfires raging around Australia with Nick Kyrgios and Chris Lynn extending their help by donating cash for every ace or six they hit.
Australia, which is facing one of its most devastating bushfire crisis and has already left at least 18 people dead, forcing mass evacuations, is bracing for a weekend heatwave expected to further fan the deadly infernos.
Kyrgios, a controversial figure with a bad boy reputation, has been at the forefront of rallying support and pledged Aus$200 (US$140) for each ace he serves across the Australian summer of tennis, starting with the ATP Cup which began Friday (December 3).
“I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer,” tweeted the 24-year-old, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts.
His Australian teammate at the inaugural ATP Cup Alex de Minaur went one better.
“I like this, I will go $250 per ace, just because I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate,” he replied, with Australian veteran Samantha Stosur also pledging $200 per ace.
Kyrgios, who will also play the Kooyong Classic and the Australian Open this month, on Thursday (December 2), issued a call for fundraisers for victims of the fires, which prompted Australia’s tennis chief Craig Tiley to get on board.
“We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fund raising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks,” said Tiley.
The fires have been a big talking point ahead of the 24-team ATP Cup, which is being staged in Brisbane, Perth, and Sydney with top names including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal playing.
Tournament director Tom Larner announced that each ace served at the 10-day event would deliver Aus$100 to bushfire relief.
The initiative is forecast to raise around Aus$150,000, with more than 1,500 aces expected to be sent down over the duration of the January 3-12 tournament.
“Most of the players are already keen to score aces and win a quick point, and having the chance to raise money for the bushfire appeal will give them that extra bit of motivation,” he said.
There are fears that smoke haze could impact the tournament in Sydney, with officials relying on on-site medical experts to monitor air quality, although there were no concerns on Friday.
With the country, all set to kick off the third cricket Test in Sydney between Australia and New Zealand the country’s largest city will be monitoring for smoke before and during the game.
Also read: Heatwave intensifies bush fires in Australia
Disturbed by the situation, the players will be seen wearing black armbands on Friday (December 3) as a mark of respect for those who have died and for the firefighters who are trying to douse the flames.
Two of the biggest hitters in the game, Lynn and Glenn Maxwell, announced they would donate $250 for every six they smash during the ongoing Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament.
“Hey Guys, for every six I hit in this years Big Bash League I will donate $250 towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal,” tweeted Lynn.
“It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country.”
Maxwell, back in action after a short mental health sabbatical, replied: “Love it Lynny!! I’ll match you on $250 per six I hit in this year’s BBL.” D’Arcy Short, who was last week added to Australia’s squad for their upcoming one-day tour of India, also jumped on board with the same commitment.
Cricket Australia has already announced that the upcoming ODI series in March against New Zealand will be used to raise money which will go to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund for the rehabilitation of those affected.
In fact, former India World Cup-winning all-rounder Yuvraj Singh on Thursday (December 2) termed the raging bushfire as tragic and said it’s time some action is taken against the serious issue of climate change.
After Australia opener David Warner, who shared a picture of a person with a dog watching the devastating forest fire, and paid tributes to the firefighters and volunteers, Yuvraj took to twitter to express his sympathy towards those affected by the tragedy.
“Australia has burnt more than 12million acres this season, they r not even halfway thr its peak fire season. Tragic news on #bushfiresAustralia 480 million animals have been lost. This is culmination of climate change it’s time v take some action. Prayers for all affected,” Yuvraj wrote on his twitter handle with a series of pictures of the tragedy.
(With inputs from agencies)