Elite runners brave Delhi race despite COVID-19 surge, pollution concerns


Elite runners take part in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India, November 29, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Some of the world's leading long-distance runners participated in a half-marathon in New Delhi on Sunday, even as India's capital grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases and air pollution that has recently been among the world's worst.

More than 60 professional runners participated in the race, while several hundred enthusiasts ran in other cities on routes of their choice, using a mobile app to post race timings, said the event organisers.

Although air quality was poor on Sunday, the runners got a bit of a reprieve, as pollution levels in the capital were dramatically better than those of recent weeks.

New Delhi's Air Quality Index was at 252 on a scale of 500, registering at "poor" levels, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. But skies were relatively clear and the readings were significantly below the "severe" levels as high as 488 recorded earlier this month.

The race was scaled back as the city experiences a third wave of the pandemic.

"Organisers are not inviting general runners at the stadium like every year to avoid a big gathering," an event official said, adding that hundreds of amateur runners were running in other cities after registering through an app.

Defending champions from Ethiopia, Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu, were among the elite athletes running the 21-kilometre (13.1 mile) race.

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2020 "is a very significant moment for Indian sports since the pandemic began," said Abhinav Bindra, brand ambassador of the event and India's only individual Olympic gold medallist.

The event is a step toward resuming competitive sports in India and would be a benchmark for other sports to follow, he said.

"The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will follow the highest level of safety standards, with bio-secure zones to ensure a COVID free race for the elite runners," the organisers had said in a press statement earlier.

The race also took place as thousands of farmers, riled by new agricultural laws, staged a third straight day of protests, blockading some arterial roads into the capital.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Euan Rocha and William Mallard)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In World

Russian authorities target ally of Kremlin foe Navalny before jail appeal
Pakistan court frees Islamist convicted of beheading U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl
Italy quizzes Facebook after TikTok child death row
United States drops in global corruption index on election aftermath
Syrian businessman Haswani denies links to Beirut blast chemicals
Timeline: Ten years from uprising, Yemen lies fractured and hungry
Yemen 'Arab Spring' unity torn asunder by hunger and war
Ghislaine Maxwell denied seeing Jeffrey Epstein being massaged in New York
Secretary of State Blinken says U.S. committed to Israel's security
New Zealand, Taiwan top COVID performance ranking, U.S., UK languish

Stories You'll Enjoy


-->