The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for the cancellation of the ‘Airtel Delhi Half Marathon’, to be held on November 19 at 7 a.m., in view of the alarmingly high levels of air pollution in Delhi.
IMA President, Dr KK Aggarwal wrote in the letter – “The air quality is particularly poor in the early morning when pollution is extremely high. This is also the time when the proposed Half Marathon is scheduled to start. The hazardous pollution levels may have disastrous health consequences, even for the healthy participants,”. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi has ranged from ‘very unhealthy’ to ‘hazardous’ in the last couple of days. The levels have crossed the 300 ‘danger’ mark in several parts of the city.
“It can trigger off an asthma attack and worsen lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can also increase the risk of acute fatal or non fatal cardiovascular events such as heart attack,” said Dr RN Tandon, Secretary General of the association. Even, doctors in New Delhi have witnessed a rise in the numbers of cases of respiratory illness by 20 per cent. Cases of viral infection, cough, sneezing, respiratory tract infection and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease have gone up.
However, the organizers of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon had said on Saturday that the call for cancellation of the event is “shortsighted” and asserted they have support of international athletes despite the prevailing pollution in the city. More than 34,000 participants signed up for this event in various race categories last year, according to the Procam website. This edition will count 2017 world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana among participants.