In a letter to the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, environmentalists in India have urged the board to reschedule India’s first Twenty20 International against Bangladesh outside of Delhi, given the extremely poor quality of air in the capital at this time of the year.
Pollution levels in Delhi has spiked drastically following the celebration of the festival of Diwali, during which the practice of bursting crackers worsen the quality of air that already is in the category of dangerous ahead of winter. Delhi’s AQI before Diwali was rated “very poor”, according to reports.
“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,” the letter from non-profit organisations Care For Air and My Right To Breathe said, according to Times of India. “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.
“Thousands of innocent spectators at the venue will also be putting themselves at risk in order to watch the match in the prevailing situation.”
While breathing toxic air itself is a problem, strenuous physical activity in such conditions, causing increased respiration rate, causes more serious, long-term issues. “Any match played outdoors harms the health and very lives of the players,” the letter said. “It is irresponsible to schedule such sporting activities during times of such toxic air quality.”
In December 2017, Sri Lanka’s players wore protective masks during the Test in Delhi, and there were significant delays in the match as visibility worsened. There were reports that the visiting players suffered vomiting, at several points, the management from both teams were in conversation with the umpires, with Sri Lanka attempting to stop play till conditions improved.
A year before that, a first-class match in India’s premier domestic competition Ranji Trophy was abandoned without a ball bowled in New Delhi after smog made visibility a severe issue.