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China's sports governing body suspends high-risk events after ultramarathon tragedy

By Shi Futian | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-06-02 20:40
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Rescuers search for missing people at the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Jingtai County of Baiyin, Northwest China's Gansu province, May 23, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

A series of high-risk sports events, including long distance cross-country running, have been suspended by China's leading sports authority as it vowed to strengthen sports events' safety supervision after an ultramarathon tragedy that took 21 lives.

"To safeguard the safety and health of people, from today, newly emerging high-risk sports events including mountain cross-country running events, desert crossing events, wingsuit flying events and ultramarathon events, which have insufficient management, non-comprehensive rules and unclear safety standards, are all suspended," read an announcement from the General Administration of Sport of China on Wednesday.

"The GASC will have comprehensive review on these sports events, refine the management system, make safety standards and strengthen the supervision on the safety management of all sports events.

"All local sports bureaus and event organizers should be aware of the risks and shoulder responsibilities to preventing them. Risk checks regarding the organizational work, logistics, safety management, emergency response, epidemic prevention, geological and weather conditions should be conducted. All events with safety risks should be suspended."

Late last month, a total of 21 competitors died during an ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province. Some of China's elite runners were among the dead, as the annual mountain ultramarathon was hit by severe weather. Another eight were hospitalized for injuries.

The tragedy came after hail, freezing rain and high winds caught the 172 lightly dressed marathon runners off-guard as they were racing along winding mountain paths in the central part of the province.

The GASC hosted an emergency meeting right after the tragedy, calling for better risk management and more comprehensive contingency plans.

"Everyone should be aware of the seriousness and complexity of the safety and risk management work involved in sports events, and we should know there are still many problems to be solved," GASC director Gou Zhongwen said during the meeting, according to China Sports Daily.

"Sports events have always been a focus of our people and many communities in society. Sports events are intricately connected with people's daily lives. … Any management mistakes could cause safety incidents and huge losses.

"All levels of sports administration have been working actively on safety procedures for sports events, and they have created a stable environment for the development of sports. However, with further reform and development of the sports industry, there are new requirements for supervisory work."

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