Unfazed by the notice issued by the Delhi High Court on a petition seeking to postpone the Delhi Half Marathon on November 19, the organisers today said they would present their case with "full facts" and hoped the HC would give a verdict in their favour.
The HC issued the notice by taking cognisance of a letter written by Indian Medical Association to Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal, seeking postponement of the marathon as the air quality in the national capital was poor and unsafe.
A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the Delhi government, police, the pollution control panel DPCC and the organisers of the event and sought their reply by November 16, the next date of hearing.
Head of Procam International, the event organisers, said they were going ahead with the preparations in full swing with the hope that they would be able to convince the court.
"We have not received the notice yet, but we'll present our case with the points and full facts that we have and what we are trying to do. We hope to convince the court the sensitivity that we have and the amount of preparation that has gone into holding this event," Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of Procam International told PTI.
"This is a participatory sport and not a spectator sport. For the last four months we have been preparing for this event and we have made a lot of sacrifices. An athlete would know how much he or she has put into to prepare for this particular race day. To me it is not practical (to postpone)," he added.
The organisers are also wary that a postponement may result in top stars like world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui and women's 10,000m Rio Olympics winner Almaz Ayana skipping the event, which has recently been granted the status of a Gold Label Race by the International Athletics Federation.
They said a postponement may disrupt the whole preparation, including raising of funds for charity. This year, Rs 5 crore has so far been raised to be used for philanthropic purposes.
"30,000 people have been training for this race. They have stopped intensive training two weeks back, their training has tapered now in preparation of the race. I don't know what will happen to them if the race is postpone or cancelled," Singh said.
"As of now everything is going on full swing. All the international and Indian elite athletes are coming, the event ambassador is coming. There has not been any change from what we have planned. This commitment from the athletes give us the strength to move ahead," he said.
Singh has earlier expressed hope that the air quality would improve before the race day. He had said that the issue of poor air quality was there last year also. He said salt mixed with effluent treated water will wash the course to absorb the particulate matters.
Meanwhile, the organisers said the race has till date raised over Rs. 5 crore, thanks to the efforts of the NGOs and support from the philanthropy partners -- India Cares Foundation.
Currently, 90 teams fielded by 62 corporate entities have registered to run comprising of more than 2500 employees from these companies. 54 Care Champions are raising an average of Rs 2.50 lakh each.
Over 300 individuals, children as young as nine year olds and retirees, too, are raising funds for the participating CSOs working in all causes, the organisers said.
"India Cares, the event's Philanthropy Partner, engaged 24/7 with CSOs, companies, and individuals from as early as July and will continue working weeks after Race Day, to communicate the work and impact of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to the rest of the Society," the organisers said in a release.
"In 2016, over 8817 donors, 71 companies contributed the generous amount of Rs 6.67 Crore via the 90+ Civil Society Organisations (CSOs/ NGOs). It has had direct impact on the quality of 49,943 lives during the year, while the work of the CSOs also touched 35,260 people indirectly, through camps and outreach programmes, besides the families of these 85,000+ individuals.
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