One of the showpiece courts for next week’s Australian Open has combustible cladding on its exterior, but authorities say tennis fans will be safe watching matches at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena.
The ABC can reveal that dangerous combustible cladding is present at the 10,000-seat arena after an audit by the Melbourne and Olympic Park Trust last year found that up to 20 per cent of the building had suspect materials.
The trust will remove the cladding as part of refurbishment works early next year.
Trust chief executive Brian Morris said the centre was “completely safe”.
“We’ve done things like removing any potential ignition points, we’ve put on extra staff to review areas that could possibly be at risk, we’ve probably increased our response capability and the MFB [Metropolitan Fire Brigade] will be on board during the Australian Open,” he said.
The Victorian Government said the site was safe and authorities had given the arena the green light to continue operating.
“There is nothing to worry about,” Mr Morris said.
There has been a major focus on cladding after the deadly Grenfell fire in London and a non-lethal fire at Docklands Lacrosse apartments.
Last November, an interim report from auditors found combustible cladding could be a risk on 1400 Victorian buildings, with the potentially deadly materials identified on eight hospitals.
The cladding burns very quickly when ignited.
Authorities have blamed a lack of proper regulation and a failure to crack down on illegal materials being imported as the reason for the massive proliferation of the cheaper products on buildings over the last two decades.
The Victorian government oversaw the construction of Hisense Arena, which opened in 2000.
Last year, 7:30 revealed that neighbouring AAMI Park, the stadium that hosts world-class Soccer, Rugby League and Union as well as major concerts including Bruce Springsteen and Sia also had the polyurethane cladding.