Just as India gears up to face off against Bangladesh in the upcoming T20’s cricket match series at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium, the city’s serious air pollution problem is proving to be quite the dampener. Delhi’s severely toxic air quality in the aftermath of the Diwali festivities has got environmentalists worried about it doing some serious damage to the cricket teams’ health. In an open letter requesting the Board of Control for Cricket in India President Sourav Ganguly to seriously consider shifting the venue to someplace that hasn’t been so bombarded with air pollution, environmentalists point out how making the teams play cricket in the open air for long stretches of time will adversely impact them.
"On the 3rd of November India is scheduled to play against Bangladesh in a T20 match at Feroz Shah Kotla at a time when pollution levels are expected to be between severe to hazardous," activists Jyoti Pande and Ravina Raj Kohli, who work for 'Care For Air' and 'My Right To Breathe'—two non-profit organisations that advocate and raise awareness for clean air—wrote in the open letter.
"Making our cricketers play a physically demanding sport for 3-4 hours in Delhi's toxic air will end up doing more damage to our cricket team's health in the long run," they added since such activities raise the respiration rate of the body leading to higher levels of toxins entering the lungs and other organs. They’re also concerned that since thousands of spectators will come out to support their teams, they too will be exposed to the toxic air.
"We would also like to request you to consider setting up of responsible sports protocols which take into consideration the AQI (air quality index) of venues and cities while scheduling cricket matches be it domestic or international," they continued.
Earlier in 2017, a similar issue came up when the Sri Lankan cricket team was unable to play a match in Delhi due to the poor air quality, with many players finding it difficult to breathe and even requiring protective masks. Considering there have even been cases where doctors suspect that patients have developed lung cancer due to the toxic air in Delhi, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea?
Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.