Environmentalists ask if India’s government is making bad air worse.
Recently an international cricket match in the Indian city of Delhi had to be temporarily halted in the middle of the game for an unusual reason. The cause: air pollution levels so high that a top player for India’s opponent, Sri Lanka, began vomiting on the field.
The episode in the Indian capital, Delhi, has attracted close attention from cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), which now wants air quality and its consequences to be considered by its medical committee. It is also likely to be discussed at ICC meetings in February.
It’s possible that just as rain and poor light routinely stop cricket, air quality will have to be considered by umpires in the not too distant future. Currently, electronic meters are used to measure light during international and other high-level cricket. There are suggestions that soon comparable equipment may be used to measure air quality on cricket fields.
The problem is not confined to cricket. In mid-November, air pollution in Delhi was so poor that some of the 34,000 runners in the city’s annual half marathon wore face masks.
Nor is air pollution in sport confined to Delhi or the wider north India. Track and field followers will recall that the Beijing Olympics of 2008, in which Mr Usain Bolt grabbed the imagination of the world, is also remembered for air pollution.
Indeed, media reports say studies show that those Games were the most polluted ever in terms of air quality. Levels of smog and soot were said to be so high at times that sunlight was blotted out. Thankfully, afternoon showers throughout the period of the Olympics in China cleaned up the air enough so that most athletes felt little or no ill effects.