June 24 - The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is "closely monitoring" the air quality situation in Johor Bahru, which is due to host the World League semi-final this weekend, after the Malaysian city was hit with hazardous levels of smoke from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
Smoke from the large-scale fires on the island of Sumatra has been drifting east to Malaysia and Singapore that saw the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) peak at over 300, which can have a harmful impact on both sensitive groups and the healthy population, before dropping to below 100, which should mean few or no health effects for the general population, in Johor Bahru.
Northwesterly winds and precipitation, which should help alleviate the situation, are currently forecast for the coming days, however, the possibility of sudden changes in wind direction remains, affecting the predictability of the development of the situation.
The FIH, along with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation, Malaysian Government agencies and tournament director Björn Isberg, who has already been on the ground in Singapore for several days, are receiving air quality updates every four hours and are evaluating the situation ahead of the World League event, which is due to start on Saturday (June 29).
Per the recommendation of its Medical Committee, FIH's policy indicates that a match may be started or proceed if the PSI does not significantly exceed 100 for a prolonged period of time, but no match may be started or proceed at readings of 150 or above.
"The FIH is firmly committed to taking all measures necessary to protect the health and safety of athletes and officials participating in the upcoming Hockey World League semi-final event in Johor Bahru and to ensure a suitable high performance environment for a fair competition," FIH President Leandro Negre said.
"Contingency plans are in place for the case that pollution in Johor Bahru returns to unhealthy to hazardous levels, including the possibility of relocating the event to a different city."
The FIH added that it will keep participating teams informed of all developments in due course.
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