Internet Desk: The visiting Sri Lankan cricketers today reignited the debate whether the capital should host any major sporting events due to the increasing health risks posed by smog. Doctors here have urged the concerned authorities to revise its rulebook after a Test match between India and Sri Lanka went ahead in the capital despite players vomiting and wheezing for air.
The ensuing third test match between India and Sri Lanka was disrupted thrice on Sunday as Sri Lankan cricketers complained of illness, but umpires ruled the match would proceed. Sri Lankan pacer Suranga Lakmal was seen complaining to his team-mates at the start of the India’s second innings. Several members of the visiting team were later seen wearing a mask.
The Indian Medical Association condemned the decision, warning that playing in such conditions put athletes’ health at serious risk.
“This match should not have taken place in the first place. It is time the ICC (International Cricket Council) comes up with a policy on pollution,” said a doctor of AIIMS.
“You have fast bowlers, batsmen and fielders out there exposed to these very harmful pollutants over five days at a stretch. It takes a serious toll on your health in the long run.”
The capital has seen sporting events being organized in the last one month in spite of the smog. Last month more than 30,000 runners competed in the Delhi half-marathon – just days after smog shut schools amid a public health emergency in the capital. The runners did complain about burning eyes and sore throats.
The world football governing body i.e., FIFA rescheduled the U17 World Cup matches after Diwali to avoid the pollution.
Javier Ceppi, the tournament director of the event recently tweeted, “You can’t host sport events in Delhi from Diwali till end of Feb, at least. It is a fact. We had to accommodate our whole schedule to avoid it and others should also think about athletes’ health first #DelhiSmog”
Pollution levels generally rise during the winter in Delhi and across northern India and neighboring Pakistan, fueled by crop burning in the region and the fact that cooler air traps particulates close to the ground.
The smog has become especially alarming in the past two years, casting doubt on the future of sports events in the sports-mad parts of South Asia.