A host of tennis and cricket stars led by Nick Kyrgios and Chris Lynn have pledged support for victims of bushfires raging around Australia, donating money for every ace or six they hit. The initiative has been taken up by their peers as well as the climate crisis stretches on for months and covers a large part of the country with impact also being felt in New Zealand.
The fires have already claimed 18 lives and killed half a billion animals while forcing mass evacuations, with the country set for a weekend of heatwave expected to fan the deadly infernos.
Kyrgios, a controversial figure with a reputation for being a 'bad boy', has led the 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 on Friday.
"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.
Proud of @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen commitment to helping those affected by the fires. I will be there Wednesday no question. Come out, show some support anyway you can, please.
🙏🏽❤️ 🇦🇺 🎾#Rally4Relief
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 3, 2020
His Australian teammate at the inaugural ATP Cup Alex de Minaur joined in on the initiative — as did a host of other tennis players including 2011 Wimbledon champion Sam Stosur.
— alex de minaur (@alexdeminaur) January 2, 2020
— John Millman (@johnhmillman) January 2, 2020
For every ACE I serve over the Aussie summer I’ll donate $200 to the bushfire relief to help raise funds to the families, firefighters and animals who are affected by this disaster. Please join me in any way you can #ausfires #ClimateEmegency #AustralianFires
— Samantha Stosur (@bambamsam30) January 2, 2020
— John Peers (@johnwpeers) January 2, 2020
With more than 1500 aces expected to be served, the tournament contribution is expected to exceed $150,000.
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 2, 2020
"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 Stosur pledging $200 per ace.
Kyrgios had on Thursday issued a call for fundraisers for victims of the fires, which prompted Tennis Australia's chief Craig Tiley to get on board.
"We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and will announce a number of fundraising 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 first slam of the year will be preceded by two charity initiatives on 15 and 19 January with the tournament getting underway on 20 January in Melbourne.
The fires have been a big talking point ahead of the 24-team ATP Cup, which is being played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney with top names including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in contention.
ATP Cup's 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 course of 10 days.
In support of these devestating fires, every ace I hit over the Australian summer I’d like to donate $100 to help raise money for those affected. I hope you can please join me in anyway you can! 🙏🏼❤️
— Katie Boulter (@KatieBoulter1) January 2, 2020
I want in, for every ace I hit during the Aussie summer I’ll donate $25 for the bushfire relief https://t.co/JwaIvg9Uv5
— Alex Bolt (@abolt15) January 3, 2020
For every ace I serve over this Australian summer of tennis I'll be donating $10 to the bushfire appeal! Lets make 2020 a year of big serving and winning matches for the firefighters and affected communities/families! I encourage others to join me in helping Australia 🙏❤️ https://t.co/U5mRgv78nS
— Ellen Perez (@EllenPerez95) January 2, 2020
"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.
Cricketers Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell, who are currently playing in the domestic Twenty20 league (Big Bash League), both pledged Aus$250 for each six they hit in the competition.
"Hey Guys, for every six I hit in this year's Big Bash League I will donate $250 towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. 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," Lynn tweeted.
Hey Guys, for every six I hit in this years Big Bash League I will donate $250 towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal. 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 🙏 pic.twitter.com/9MVwNg81GE
— Chris Lynn (@lynny50) January 2, 2020
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 years 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.
Love it Lynny!!
I’ll match you on $250 per six I hit in this years BBL. Great cause which is helping so many people around the country who are doing it tough right now. 🙏 https://t.co/hcJea0B6hh
— Glenn Maxwell (@Gmaxi_32) January 2, 2020
Alright I am gonna jump on board and match @lynny50 and @Gmaxi_32 with $250 for every six I hit in the big bash league aswell to donate Red Cross and help those that are doing it tough. https://t.co/43M0CkAejY
— D'Arcy Short (@ShortDarcy) January 3, 2020
Excellent work boys 🙌🏽👏🏽, jumping on board and will donate $250 on each Six 😉 and WICKET to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal
Let’s get together as a Nation n help those r in need, Hopefully this will end soon InshaALLAH
— Fawad Ahmed (@bachaji23) January 3, 2020
Australia's Test cricketers will also auction signed shirts from the Melbourne Cricket Ground Test against New Zealand.
Top American NBA prospect LaMelo Ball has said he will donate some of the salary he receives from the Illawarra Hawks to victims of the wildfires.
Ball, tipped to be chosen in the first round of the NBA draft this year, said he will donate one month of his salary, an amount that was not disclosed.
“It's sad to see what is happening on the south coast of Australia," Ball said in a statement Friday. “People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out."
In the two most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria, 18 people have died and 28 are missing and more than 1,500 homes or buildings have been destroyed in the continuing fires. Conditions are expected to worsen on the weekend.
(With inputs from The Associated Press)
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Updated Date: Jan 03, 2020 11:50:46 IST