China has indefinitely suspended extreme sporting events, including ultramarathons, trail running and wingsuit flying, in response to the deaths of 21 long-distance runners in Gansu last month.
Extreme weather hit the Yellow River Stone Forest trail race in Gansu province a few hours after the race on May 22, as many of the competitors were crossing a remote and treacherous part of the 100km mountain track. Of the 172 competitors, 21 were killed and eight were injured. Dozens of competitors took refuge in caves, some rescued by residents of nearby towns.
On Wednesday the General Sports Administration Announced an indefinite suspension of all “high-risk sporting events with unclear management responsibilities, imperfect rules and unclear safety protection standards.” These included cross-country races, wingsuit flying, ultramarathons and desert races, “to fully ensure the health and safeguard of people’s lives,” he said.
“The General Sports Administration will carry out a comprehensive review of sporting events, accelerate improvements to the management system, improve standards and regulations, and comprehensively strengthen management to guarantee the safety of sporting events.”
The administration’s statement also directed local authorities not to hold competitive sporting events unless necessary, and to cancel any other high-stakes events in the run-up to the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial celebrations next month, with In order to ensure “a good atmosphere and atmosphere”.
He said local governments should conduct risk assessments of competitive activities and related services, including security management, analysis of meteorological and geological conditions and emergency rescue. The suspension was first reported by the South China Morning Post.
In the wake of Gansu’s run, numerous marathons and running events were postponed or canceled. Family members and survivors demanded responsibility for what some said was a “man-made disaster”.
In its announcement, the administration said the incident was due in part to sudden changes in the weather. [and] it caused a great loss of human life, a lesson imbued with deep pain. “
Among the concerns raised by the disaster are an apparent lack of awareness about climate change, the lack of cold weather gear on the mandatory equipment list and the long delay in canceling the race once things started to go wrong.
Multiple accounts of the Gansu disaster hinted at poor contingency planning and communication with local rescue authorities, who struggled to access the terrain and locate stranded competitors. Several hours passed between the first help messages and the full deployment of the rescue teams.
Commentators also noted the explosion in popularity of endurance racing in China, suggesting that there were too few experienced organizers to run the hundreds of races now held each year. Tourism officials often see a career as a prominent way to promote their region and win favor with their superiors, potentially without sufficient regard for danger.
China’s high-level central commission for disciplinary inspection is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism