Youth matches postponed in New South Wales as Australia bushfires rage

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s sports federations have postponed youth matches in New South Wales as firefighters battled to contain nearly 150 fires burning in the eastern state on Friday that have blanketed Sydney, the nation’s biggest city, in hazardous smoke.

New South Wales Rugby League called off four junior representative trial matches scheduled over the weekend due to concerns over air quality resulting from the bushfires.

“The NSWRL has also recommended all clubs refrain from training outdoors until the air quality index has reduced to a safe level,” the governing body said in a statement on Friday.

Australia’s soccer association postponed a junior league match scheduled for Saturday in the Central Coast region between the Mariners and the Newcastle Jets due to poor air quality forecasts.

Matches in the top flight A-League and women’s W-League in affected areas might also be canceled if conditions deteriorate, Football Federation Australia said in a media release.

Bushfires in Australia have killed at least four people and destroyed more than 680 homes since the start of November. Fires are still burning in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland states.

Winds have blown thick smoke over Sydney, the state capital where about 5 million live.

Players at the Australian Open golf tournament complained of stinging eyes after their rounds at course in Sydney.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford