AFP/New Delhi, India
Top doctors have warned elite runners are taking a major health risk by competing in Sunday’s New Delhi half-marathon in the midst of a major coronavirus outbreak and soaring air pollution.
Women’s marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei from Kenya and Ethiopia’s two-time men’s winner Andamlak Belihu are among the 49 elite athletes running the 21-kilometre (13.1 mile) race, while thousands of amateurs are taking part virtually.
Organisers say the “highest level of safety-standards, with bio-secure zones” have been laid on for the race.
But with New Delhi recording more than 500,000 virus cases, and air quality in the world’s most polluted capital hovering between ‘unhealthy’ and ‘hazardous’, health experts said the athletes should think twice.
“It will be suicidal for runners to run the race this time. We have such high levels of pollution, we have the risk of coronavirus,” Arvind Kumar, founder trustee of the Lung Care Foundation, told AFP.
Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the country’s top research body, told AFP that “in an ideal situation” the race should not be run.
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