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Iran cancels two football games over pollution

Iran postponed two premier league football matches on Sunday, state media said, as air pollution more than twice the acceptable level persisted in the capital.

The games – between Tehran teams and clubs visiting from Mashhad and Tabriz – were rescheduled for Tuesday after Tehran’s environment authority recommended “refraining from all sport activities,” the Fars news agency said.

Severe air pollution earlier this week had already led authorities to close schools for three days in and around the capital, where an estimated 14 million people live.

The Air Quality Index in Tehran on Sunday stood at 132, an official said, well above the World Health Organisation’s advised level of between zero and 50.

Mohammad Rastegari advised the elderly, children and sick people – including those suffering heart problems – to stay indoors.

Exhaust fumes from the five million cars and almost as many motorcycles that ply Tehran’s roads account for 80 percent of its pollution, which increases in winter as emissions fail to rise above cold air.

Lawmakers criticised the government on Sunday for its response to the situation. Saturday’s “pictures of Tehran, Qazvin, Qom and Esfahan show that the level of air pollution is very high in these provinces,” said one ultra-conservative parliamentarian. 
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