The stadiums are renovated, the publicity posters hung. But not everything was ideal for players at the Under-17 World Cup in India, where air pollution was beyond recognized safe levels in the six cities staging games. In the hours before the first matches on Friday, lung-clogging particulate matter known as PM2.5 hovered above 170 micrograms per cubic meter in New Delhi – or 17 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe, and more than four times higher than India’s own standards. Meanwhile, concentrations of PM2.5 in Mumbai were also considered unhealthy, registering in some places at 180 mcg per cubic meter. The high levels are hardly surprising. At least 10 cities in India are among the world’s 20 most polluted. “If you apply World Health Organization standard as a measure, you’ll find it difficult to hold any kind of international sports event in any city of India,” said Anant Sudarshan, India director at the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago.
U17 World Cup | Air pollution high in India