Haile Gebrselassie at the installation of an air quality monitoring device at Addis Ababa stadium (© Ethiopian Athletics Federation)
The second air quality monitor in the IAAF’s pilot programme to measure air quality at stadiums around the world was installed at Addis Ababa Stadium on Friday (2), the project’s first in Africa.
The pilot programme, launched with the installation of the first device at the Stade Louis II in Monaco in September, is part of the IAAF’s five-year partnership with UN Environment aimed at creating greater global awareness of air pollution through the creation of an air quality monitoring network that will eventually link 1000 IAAF-certified tracks around the world.
IAAF Ambassador and UN Environment Advocate for Clean Air Haile Gebrselassie, who attended the launch, believes that today’s installation of the air quality monitor at Addis Ababa Stadium will lead to a new air pollution policy for Ethiopia.
Gebrselassie said the launch was an important occasion for those who are involved in athletics and for the community at large.
“It's crucial to raise awareness about air pollution and to take initiatives to protect athletes from the effect of air pollution,” he said.
“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 athlete’s performance. And it will lead us to design new policy and strategies.”
As a long-time asthmatic, Gebrselassie said, “I have canceled 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.”
IAAF Health & Science Department Director Stéphane Bermon also attended the launch, briefing the guests, who included Ethiopian Athletics Federation General Secretary Bililign Mekoya, representatives of the Ethiopian athletics and football federations and several of the country’s top track and field athletes, on the objectives of the project and the importance of data that will be collected. Bermon also spoke about the project with reporters from Ethiopian National TV and the regional broadcaster Addis TV.
The monitoring devices, produced by the Spanish firm Kunak, will collect real time air quality data, measuring levels of several pollutants including PM2.5 (particles), PM10, O3 and NO2, which research shows are the four main elements that have an impact on the performance of athletes.
Built in 1940, the Addis Ababa Stadium is a key training centre for many of the country’s leading athletes, Almaz Ayana, Tirunesh Dibaba, Genzebe Dibaba, Senbere Teferi and Selemon Barega among them.
Mentwab Geday (in Addis Ababa) and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF