David Rudisha wants action taken for cleaner air for athletes. GETTY IMAGES

David Rudisha, the world record holder in the 800 meters from Kenya, is calling for global action against air pollution, emphasising the necessity of clean air for athletes to excel in major events like the Olympic Games.

Athletes, who take in deep breaths of air, are particularly affected by air pollution. Rudisha emphasised in an interview with AFP that controlling air pollution during major sporting events worldwide will have broader positive effects in host cities.

Attending the World Health Organisation's annual assembly in Geneva this week, Rudisha aims to encourage countries to recognise the advantages of clean air for sports.

"In the world right now, over 80 percent of the population are living below acceptable air quality, which is a big problem and it's causing so many people chest and pulmonary diseases," he said. "This is a very, very serious issue that needs to be tackled. Athletes also need to be protected and safeguarded against these pollutants."

A proposal presented to the WHO's assembly urges nations to leverage the scale of major sporting events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup to enhance public health and overall well-being. This includes initiatives to promote clean air, clean water, and healthy diets.

Ex-runner David Rudisha is calling for global action against air pollution. GETTY IMAGES
Ex-runner David Rudisha is calling for global action against air pollution. GETTY IMAGES

With the Paris 2024 Olympics poised to capture global attention in July and August the 35-year-old, urges the world to seize this opportunity.

Rudisha, present at the WHO assembly as an ambassador for World Athletics and Athletics Kenya, collaborates with the Stockholm Environment Institute to install air quality sensors in Kenyan stadiums, aiming to monitor pollution levels.

The potential cancellation of events due to unsafe air conditions has prompted local clean-up efforts, enhancing air quality for spectators and residents alike.

"We breathe the same air and when we have clean air, that means also the whole community benefits," Rudisha added.