China Bans All Extreme Sports After 21 Runners Died from Extreme Weather During Ultramarathon

Rescue workers carry a stretcher as they work at the site where extreme cold weather killed participants of an 100-km ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province, China May 22, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS

China has indefinitely suspended extreme sports 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 Yellow River Stone Forest trail race in Gansu province a few hours into the race on 22 May as many of the competitors were crossing a remote and treacherous part of the 100km mountain track. Of the 172 competitors, 21 died and eight were injured. Scores of competitors sheltered in caves, some rescued by residents from nearby villages.

On Wednesday the General Administration of Sport announced an indefinite suspension of all “high-risk sports events with unclear management responsibilities, imperfect rules and unclear safety protection standards”. These included cross-country running, wingsuit flying, ultramarathons and desert races, “in order to fully guarantee the health and to safeguard the lives of the people”, it said.

“The General Administration of Sport will conduct a comprehensive review of sports events, accelerate improvements of the management system, improve standards and regulations, and comprehensively strengthen management to ensure the safety of sports events.”

The administration’s statement also ordered local authorities not to hold competitive sport events unless necessary, and to cancel any other high-risk events in the lead-up to next month’s celebrations of the Chinese Communist party’s centenary, in order to ensure “a good environment and atmosphere”.

It said local governments must conduct risk assessments of competitive activities and related services including safety management, analysis of weather and geological conditions, and emergency rescue. The suspension was first reported by the South China Morning Post.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Helen Davidson