The Delhi High Court has ruled that the Half Marathon will be conducted as per schedule. The Delhi race will be held on 19 Nov 2017 in spite of the national capital of India being engulfed in dense smog resulting from the toxic air pollution. Moreover, the zeal of participants shows no signs of waning. According to reports, the registration rates have not been affected and around 35,000 people have registered to participate in the Delhi half marathon. This is 1000 more than the past year.

Indian Medical Association had asked for Delhi race to be cancelled

There has been a dark cloud hovering over the event after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) asked for cancellation due to the toxic Delhi smog, which has engulfed the national capital since almost a fortnight. This is the 13th edition of the marathon, which has been billed as one of the top half marathons of the world. As many as 30,000 people participated in the Delhi race in 2015. Delhi half marathon organizers, Procam International, is happy with the sustained interest in the event.

‘It is great how event registrations close before the stipulated date. We are glad ADHM played a transformational role in bringing communities together,’ says Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director, Procam International.

Medical preparedness for Delhi Half Marathon

Marathon organizers will reportedly have 2 medical camps, 75 doctors, 100 nurses, as well as a hospital to tend to the runners during the race. Parts of the marathon route will have water sprinkled to allow the dust to settle on the ground. There are also plans to install mist fans.

The Delhi race would have a lineup of star runners in the 2017 edition, including World Champion Geoffrey Kirui and 10,000 meter Olympic gold medalist as well as World Champion Almaz Ayana. Ayana currently holds the world record of 10,000 meters. Winners are expected to take away $27,000. Of the 35,000 participants, 13,216 (elite as well as amateur) would run the half marathon (21.097 km) distance, whereas the others would participate in the other categories: Timed 10K Run, Great Delhi Run, Senior Citizens Run, as well as Champions with Disability Run.

Dangerous levels of air pollution in national capital due to Delhi Smog

Air quality has drastically gone down as dense smog has engulfed Delhi. Stubble burning, Diwali celebrations, construction activity, and vehicle emissions have led to the toxic Delhi smog. Dangerous air pollution levels persist in Delhi as well as the NCR. The Delhi smog is equal to smoking 50 cigarettes in a day. There has been a 300 per cent increase in patients with respiratory ailments like bronchitis and asthma. Hospitals are full of patients. Over the past fortnight, hundreds have contracted pneumonia or other life threatening conditions. Intensive care units (ICUs) of Delhi hospitals are brimming with patients. There is a medical emergency in Delhi. People are complaining of a burning sensation in eyes, difficulty breathing, nausea, as well as heaviness.

Delhi half marathon sponsors jittery about the deadly air pollution

According to reports, Bharti Airtel, one of India’s top telecom companies and the official sponsors of the Delhi race, had claimed that it had the assurance of the organizers that steps had been taken to decrease the impact of air pollution on runners. Delhi administration will have to take concrete steps in order to improve air quality.

Measures in Delhi race to mitigate impact of air pollution

Several steps are being taken to minimize the deleterious impact of the deadly Delhi Smog on the participants. Salt mixed in water would be sprinkled on the tracks in order to ensure pollution due to dust is minimal, the statement said. Moreover, no vehicles are to be allowed on course of Delhi race.

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

Air pollution kills millions of people every year in India, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, says a report by noted medical science journal The Lancet. The study said that India saw the highest jump in pollution-related mortality. Around 25 per cent of the total deaths in India in 2015 was due to pollution, resulting in the death of 2.51 million people.

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