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Why are sporting events like marathons held? It is to celebrate human achievements and advocate for physical fitness. However, it can be an exercise in jeopardy. At least, this is what it seems now. Though the government and the courts have given the nod to the Delhi Half Marathon, a major question arises whether it should be allowed to go on as per schedule. The Delhi race is going to held on 19 Nov despite the fact that the national capital of India is engulfed in deadly smog, which can prove hazardous to the runners. The toxic air pollution can create a health emergency even for fit people.

Indian Medical Association had asked Delhi Half Marathon’s cancellation

Ever since the national capital region became engulfed in deadly smog like conditions, there was always a question mark over the safety of the event. In fact, there were clouds of doubt right from the moment air quality plummeted in Delhi. Even the Indian Medical Association (IMA) asked for the Delhi Half Marathon to be cancelled due to the toxicity prevalent in the air. It has been a fortnight since the smog engulfed the national capital.

No let up in public zeal for the Delhi Half Marathon

The 13th edition of the Delhi Half Marathon, which is considered as one of the most coveted of the races world wide, attracts top talent from across the globe. Around 30000 people took part in the Delhi race in the year 2015. Organizers of the Delhi Half Marathon, Procam International, are no doubt happy with the interest that has been generated in the event. This time as many as 35,000 people are participating in the Delhi Half Marathon. The figure is 1000 over that of the past year.

The Delhi race will sport a line up of star athletes in the 2017 edition. The stars include World Champion Geoffrey Kirui as well as 10,000 meter gold medalist at the Olympics and World Champion Almaz Ayana. Ayana is the world record holder in the 10,000 meter race. Winners take away a massive $27,000 as prize money. As many as 13,216 (elite and amateur) participants will run the half marathon (21.097 km), whereas the others will take part in other categories such as: Great Delhi Run, Timed 10K Run, Senior Citizens Run, together with Champions with Disability Run.

Are the preparations enough for the Delhi Half Marathon?

The Delhi Half Marathon organizers plan to have 100 nurses, 2 medical camps, around 75 doctors, together with a hospital to look after the runners. Water sprinkling will happen on parts of the Delhi race tracks to help settle the dust on the ground. There could also be mist fans. Other steps taken to lessen the deleterious effects of the Smog on participants include barring all vehicular movement on the tracks of the Delhi race. However, it is only time that will tell what happens on the day of the Delhi Half Marathon and whether the precautions prove to be enough to prevent a medical emergency.

Dangerous air pollution levels in national capital due to Delhi Smog

Air quality has gone down and smog engulfs Delhi. Stubble burning, Diwali crackers, construction , as well as vehicle emissions all have contributed to the toxic smog. Air pollution is hazardous to say the least. The deadly Delhi smog is so hazardous that it is equivalent to smoking almost 40 cigarettes in a day. There is a 300% increase in the inflow of patients with respiratory ailments including severe bronchitis and asthma. Hospitals are chock a block. Hundreds are down with pneumonia and other life threatening conditions. The intensive care units (ICUs) of Delhi hospitals are flooded with those in need of medical attention. It is medical emergency. People complain of burning eyes, breathing difficulty, as well as nausea and headache.

Delhi Half Marathon sponsors Airtel wary of the health effects of the race

Bharti Airtel, which is one of India’s top telecom companies as well as the official sponsors of the Delhi race,
has been apprehensive of the effects the Delhi Smog on the health of the runners right from the time air pollution started peaking and has minced no words in articulating its reluctance. And rightly so.

“Air pollution poses serious health risks and it’s important these concerns are addressed urgently and appropriately by authorities for Airtel to continue associating with the event next year and beyond,” Airtel has said in a statement.

Air pollution kills millions every year in India: The Lancet

Air pollution is deadly in India and ends up killing millions of people each year. Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh, also face a similar situation, says the study conducted by prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The report says India has the highest rise in pollution-related deaths. As many as 25 percent of people who died in India in the year 2015 had pollution to blame. The study says 2.51 million people died in India in 2015 due to the deadly pollution.

In such a situation, it is an open question, whether the Delhi Half Marathon should go on keeping the hazardous conditions that already exist.

About the author: I am an environmentalist, technology evangelist, women empowerment advocate, writer and editor. Basically I am a storyteller at heart and want to make the world a better place. I want to be the catalyst for making the world green and clean and rid the Earth of disasters like global warming and climate change. You can mail me at muqbil.ahmar@gmail.com or connect with me through LinkedIn, Twitter, together with Facebook. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

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Muqbil Ahmar

About Muqbil Ahmar

Editor-in-Chief and Founder at greenubuntu.com. I am an environmentalist, technology evangelist, women empowerment advocate, writer and editor. Basically I am a storyteller at heart and want to make the world a better place. With more than 10 years of experience in media, I want to be the catalyst for making the world green and clean and rid the Earth of disasters like global warming, climate change, green house effect, pollution, environment degradation, etc. I want to reduce the carbon footprint of humanity for a sustainable development model. I am the founder of www.greenubuntu.com. I have been published on various platforms such as FirstPost, Forbes, TechStory, Greenpeace, The Hindu, Business World, DailyO, Inc. 42, CXO Today, Sify. Experfy, BBN Times.Com, etc. I love to write on tech, economy, films, arts and culture, and other diverse subjects. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.