Cricketers and footballers who are in Delhi playing top division domestic matches have complained of sickness due to the worsening air quality in the capital.
On Wednesday, Mumbai coach Vinayak Samant said his team’s fast bowler Tushar Deshpande has been vomiting from the time he landed in Delhi for the Ranji Trophy match against Railways, which gets underway at Karnail Singh Stadium Thursday. “Tushar is not feeling well. He has been vomiting and complaining of headache and fever since he arrived in Delhi. But he will be playing tomorrow’s game,” Samant said.
A day earlier, Dutch footballer Gianni Zuiverloon, who plays for Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League (ISL), said several players in the team have taken ill over the last few days. “A lot of players are complaining of sickness. There’s a lot of bacterial things in the air. I have been sick for a couple of days… runny nose, diarrhoea… although I I don’t know if it’s because of the pollution or because of food. But it’s difficult to adapt. This is something we have to deal with, though,” said Zuiverloon, who has played professionally in England, Spain and Holland.
Last year, the sporting calendar in the city was disrupted during these months after the Board of Control of Cricket in India cancelled two Ranji Trophy matches due to conditions that were ‘unhealthy to play’. Days later, world football’s governing body FIFA excluded Delhi as a venue for the knockout round matches of the Under-17 World Cup due to the poor air quality.
With the city expected to be shrouded in a blanket of smog in the coming days, several Delhi Dynamos players are worried about their health. The team’s Spanish coach Josep Gombau said the pollution hasn’t had an impact on their training sessions so far but he is monitoring the situation closely. “We are not used to this but we can’t change it. It is not easy to adjust to this pollution. If the pollution is getting worse, the health of my players in more important than anything else. We are having normal training days right now (but) we will see,” Gombau said.
The coach and players said they were helpless in this situation but are taking whatever little precautions possible. Zuiverloon trained wearing a mask before Delhi’s ISL match against NorthEast United at JLN Stadium on Tuesday, while most players are staying indoors, stepping out only when necessary.
“I go out only for training or grocery shopping. I don’t go for walks during this time. I don’t think there’s a lot you can do to prevent yourself from breathing this bad air,” he said. “I just have to deal with it… that’s life over here. I can only wear the mask when I am not training or playing.”