A group of environmentalists have written a letter to BCCI President Sourav Ganguly requesting him to shift the series-opening first Twenty20 International between India and Bangladesh outside New Delhi since the rapid deteriorating air quality could pose a serious health risk for the players and the thousands of spectators.
Despite the depleting Air Quality Index (AQI) especially post Diwali, the first T20I at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on November 3 looks to be on schedule.
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan cricket team was left gasping for breath during a Test match at the Kotla, forcing most of their players to wear protective masks even as some fell ill.
“In the light of extreme pollution in Delhi, we would like to request you to consider shifting the venue for the first T20 outside of Delhi. 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,” Jyoti Pande of Care For Air and Ravina Raj Kohli of My Right To Breathe said in the letter.
Care For Air and My Right To Breathe are clean air awareness and advocacy non-profit organisations. “Thousands of innocent spectators at the venue will also be putting themselves at risk in order to watch the match in the prevailing situation,” they said.
According to the environmentalists, outdoor aerobic activities raise the respiration rate of the human body, thus depositing even higher levels of toxins into our lungs and organs.
“This puts our sportspersons at even greater risk when they play outdoors. Any match played outdoors harms the health and very lives of the players and it is irresponsible to schedule such sporting activities during times of such toxic air quality,” they said.