Delhi pollution far serious than cricket match, says Gambhir

Delhi air quality, Delhi pollution, environmentalists, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Bangladesh tour of India, Arun Jaitley Stadium
Poor air quality in the capital city has been a concern since December 2017 when players from Sri Lanka found it difficult to breathe during their test game in Delhi and mentioned wearing masks while fielding. File Photo: PTI

Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday (October 30) responded to the open letter addressing BCCI President Sourav Ganguly urging to shift the venue of the upcoming two-match T20I series against Bangladesh to be held in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium starting November 3.

Environmentalists wrote an open letter to Ganguly on Tuesday (October 29) requesting him to change the venue of the tour.

“It is a far serious issue than having a game of cricket or any other sports matches happens in Delhi. For us I think people living in Delhi should be more concerned about the pollution levels rather than the cricket match that happens,” Gambhir told ANI.

“Not only athletes it’s also for the common man of Delhi as well. A match is a very small thing, I think we can say ok whether we want to shift the match or not,” he added.

The issue comes in lieu of worsening air quality in the capital after Diwali. The environmentalists cited that air pollution will be “damage to our cricket team’s health in the long run.”

The letter further read that even if the team plays for three-four hours in such conditions it would adversely impact them.

Environmentalists Jyoti Pande and Ravina Raj Kohli who work for ‘Care For Air’ and ‘My Right To Breathe’, two non-profit organisations that work towards raising awareness for clean air wrote in the letter, “On the 3rd of November India is scheduled to play against Bangladesh in a T20 match at Feroz Shah Kotla at a time when pollution levels are expected to be between severe to hazardous.”

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“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 activists wrote.

“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,” they added.

“We would also like to request you to consider setting up of responsible sports protocols which take into consideration the AQI of venues and cities while scheduling cricket matches be it domestic or international,” they added.

Poor air quality in the capital city has been a concern since December 2017 when players from Sri Lanka found it difficult to breathe during their test game in Delhi and mentioned wearing masks while fielding.

The activists also urged on the fact that not just players but the spectators would also be affected by the match.

“Thousands of innocent spectators at the venue will also be putting themselves at risk in order to watch the match in the prevailing situation,” they wrote.

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Gambhir expressed concerns regarding Delhi’s alarming air quality, however, said that the match is a very small thing in front of what people in Delhi face each day.

“That is a very small thing, ultimately it’s the entire Delhi which is suffering, from kids to old age people as well, so it’s our responsibility. I got to know that pollution is still better but a lot of credit goes to the people of Delhi but hard work still needs to made by Delhites,” Gambhir said.

“So, I am not really bothered whether the match will happen or not. I hope it happens and it should happen, but again it’s the thing which is throughout the year that Delhi people face. It is far more concerning then match,” he added.

The Bangladesh tour of India is scheduled to begin on November 3 with two T20Is being played in Delhi from November 3 which will be followed by two Test matches starting November 14.

India will take on the visitors in their maiden day-night Test match in Eden Gardens, Kolkata on starting November 22.