IAAF continues stadium air quality drive with African launch

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has furthered its commitment to raising awareness of the effects of air pollution by installing a new air quality monitor at Addis Ababa Stadium in Ethiopia.

It marks the second monitor to be fitted as part of the IAAF’s pilot programme to measure air quality at stadiums around the world, after Monaco’s Stade Louis II venue had one installed in September.

The programme forms part of the IAAF’s five-year partnership with UN Environment, which is aimed at creating greater global awareness of air pollution. Ultimately, the IAAF hopes to create an air quality monitoring network that will link 1,000 of its certified tracks around the world.

Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner for Ethiopia who now serves as president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, an IAAF ambassador and UN advocate for clean air, said: “It’s crucial to raise awareness about air pollution and to take initiatives to protect athletes from the effect of air pollution.

“As the Ethiopian Athletics Federation president I am proud of the installation of the air quality device which will be used for research to identify the effect of air pollution on athletes’ performance. And it will lead us to design new policy and strategies.”

Gebrselassie, a long-time asthmatic, added: “I have cancelled many competitions due to air pollution. And I was happy when the request came from the IAAF to install the device. I believe that the data will be used to save the next generation. Meanwhile, it will be devoted to draft a new policy in my country.”

The monitoring devices will be used to collect real-time air quality data, measuring levels of several pollutants, including PM2.5, PM10, 03 and NO2, which, according to research, are the four main elements that have an impact on athlete performance.

After the first device was fitted at Stade Louis II in September, the IAAF said that six more devices would be installed in the coming months. Addis Ababa Stadium was one of the venues to be selected, along with facilities in Argentina, Mexico, Sydney and Japan. A second device will also be fitted at Stade Louis II to measure the difference between the air at each end of the stadium.

Addis Ababa Stadium was built in 1940 and serves as a key training centre for many of Ethiopia’s leading athletes.

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