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Doctors concerned as cricketers in New Delhi choke in smog

NEW DELHI Unprecedented scenes of Sri Lankan cricketers wearing face masks have reignited debate about hosting major sports events in heavily polluted New Delhi, where doctors are increasingly vocal about the health risks posed by smog.

Medics on Monday urged cricket's governing body to revise its rulebook after a Test match between India and Sri Lanka went ahead in the capital despite players vomiting and wheezing for air.

International cricketers returned on Monday for day three of the third Test even as air pollution at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium soared to hit 18 times the World Health Organisation's safe level.

Play had been disrupted three times on Sunday as Sri Lankan players complained of illness, but umpires ruled the match would proceed.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) condemned the decision, warning that playing in such conditions put athletes' health at serious risk.

"This match should not have taken place in the first place. It is time the ICC (International Cricket Council) comes up with a policy on pollution," said IMA president K.K. Aggarwal.

"You have fast bowlers, batsmen and fielders out there exposed to these very harmful pollutants over five days at a stretch. It takes a serious toll on your health in the long run."

The sport's governing body declined to comment.

India's powerful cricket board accused Sri Lanka of making a "big fuss", pointing to Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who hit a record sixth Test double century despite the smog.- AFP

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