SANTIAGO, June 16 (Reuters) - The governor of Santiago has asked Chileans to refrain from lighting up their barbecue grills while they watch the World Cup soccer tournament, as air pollution in the capital has worsened.
"We have air problems. Do not light a wood fire, no bonfires, no barbecues," Governor Claudio Orrego said at the weekend, as the local government issued an environmental alert, restricting traffic and banning outdoor sports at schools.
Local media reported that pollution levels in Santiago reached at least a five year-high over the weekend. On Friday evening Chile played its first World Cup match in Brazil, beating Australia, while neighboring Argentina won its first match on Sunday evening.
Shopkeepers have reported higher sales of barbecues in the run-up to the World Cup. Although it is winter in the southern hemisphere, South Americans traditionally prepare barbecues while they watch games at home. (Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Dan Grebler)