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Cardiff scrap Malaysia trip amid smog

Cardiff City have cancelled a pre-season trip to Malaysia because of the smog crisis affecting the country and bringing its capital, Kuala Lumpur, to a standstill.

The club, owned by billionaire Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan and promoted to the Premier League last season, had been due to send representatives including manager Malky Mackay and forward Craig Bellamy on the promotional visit.

But a programme of events designed to increase awareness of the club in South-East Asia ahead of a potential stock market flotation has now been scrapped.

In a statement on Cardiff's official website, Tan said: "A schedule of events had been put in place ahead of the opening Premier League fixtures, further raising awareness of Cardiff City Football Club in Malaysia.

"However, due to the current poor air quality in Kuala Lumpur, it has been decided for the welfare of all concerned to delay the trip."

Tan said the Bluebirds would work on "re-establishing plans in the future when the manager and players can better interact with Malaysian-based supporters in a suitable environment".

Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore have been hit by a week of dense smog, with the conditions largely caused by fires on palm oil plantations on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Both Barcelona and Chelsea are due to play friendlies in Kuala Lumpur later this summer, but experts have warned that playing in the current conditions would present a major risk.

"It is unhealthy, especially for athletes who train intensively," National Sports Institute chief executive Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz told the New Straits Times newspaper. "Prolonged exposure could cause cell mutations leading to cancer."

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