Concern about wildfire smoke and its effects on children has led to the cancellation of a large soccer tournament at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley.
In addition, the Greater Spokane League has implemented a new smoke pollution protocol that could lead to cancellation of practices and games when air pollution rises to unhealthy levels.
Meanwhile, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency was predicting air quality would fall into the unhealthy range for some people today. Blowing dust could add to the pollution.
Thursday afternoon’s air quality was in the moderate range as winds caused smoke plumes to veer away from Spokane.
The River City Challenge soccer tournament had been set for today through Sunday and was expected to draw 112 teams from around the region and Canada, with nearly 1,700 players.
FC Spokane, the soccer club that sponsors the annual tournament, called it off to protect young players’ health, said Jody Reidt at the club office.
The select tournament was going to draw elementary- through high school-age players.
Reidt said reaction has been positive.
“People are grateful and are happy we took kids’ health into consideration,” she said.
Kevin Morrison, director of community relations for Spokane Public Schools, said athletic directors at GSL schools are responsible for monitoring air quality and determining if activities should be limited.
If the air quality is deemed unhealthy for people with health issues, then players who have those issues will be sidelined.
If air quality is categorized as unhealthy for all people, then practices or games will be canceled. The rule applies to all sports, Morrison said.
He said it is the first time that anyone can remember smoke pollution forcing the possibility of cancellations. Officials are taking young players’ health seriously, he said.
The National Weather Service is calling for areas of smoke at least through next Thursday, with no rain in sight.
Winds gusts to 30 mph out of the west are possible in Spokane today. Some areas could see gusts to 40 mph.
A “red flag” warning for dangerous fire weather remains in effect across the region through 11 p.m. today.
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