Nick Kyrgios, Sam Stosur, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell and other athletes to aid wildfire victims in Australia

  • 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 heat wave expected to fan the deadly infernos.

  • Kyrgios, a controversial figure, has pledged Aus$200 (US$140) for each ace he serves across the Australian summer of tennis, starting with the ATP Cup

  • 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.

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.

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.

"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.

"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.

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.

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