VISION of tennis players falling to their knees not in celebration but in an effort to breath as they choked on the smoke-filled air that blanketed much of Australia's eastern states last month was broadcast around the world.
The distressing scenes saw Tennis Australia heavily criticised by some players, commentators and respiratory experts for failing to have an air quality policy to guide decision-making about whether matches should proceed.
It turns out that Tennis Australia actually did have a policy - quite a good one, in fact - but in a major PR bungle it inexplicably chose initially not to disclose it to the players due to concerns they would be confused.
Athletes tend to be quite particular about what goes into their bodies and it is understandable they were worried about ingesting lungfuls of smoke, but it struck me that there was not the same concern shown to those with lower profiles.
I remember driving to work day after day at the height of the smoke haze here in the Riverina, when visibility was sometimes reduced to as little as 50 metres, and seeing roadworkers doing their jobs without any respiratory protection.
This masthead also spoke to numerous local tradies whose stoicism meant they went about their working days without so much as a second thought about the smoke and their health.
In fact, by and large, life continued on as normal despite the abnormal conditions.
The immediate price many paid was a sore throat, irritable eyes and perhaps a cough, but will their be any longer-term effects on our respiratory health?
A NSW upper house committee is holding an inquiry in a bid to determine just that, as well as examining what the NSW government can do in future to respond to poor air quality.
Hopefully this inquiry will help us be better prepared should there ever be a repeat of this summer's horror bushfire season.
All the best for the week ahead, Ross.