Natural and man-made disasters make “life-threatening marathon”

A tragic accident in which 21 senior athletes froze to death in a cross-country mountain marathon in Baiyin City, Gansu Province, shocked the running community. Officials have blamed the sudden weather extremes for the tragedy, but according to our reporter’s in-depth investigation, the “deadly marathon” has much to do with the constant factor of official corruption, which sources revealed may involve up to 30% kickbacks. The main responsible person in the incident has also surfaced, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection expressed concern about the cause of the tragedy, the State General Administration of Sports held an emergency meeting to strengthen the safety management of sports events.

Miss Wang of the China Mountaineering Association told the station that for a long-distance running event to be held in a plateau area with an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, at least 500 staff members are needed to participate, even according to the minimum standard. But for this event, only 9 staff members were involved, which was seriously under-equipped; and the distance of each supply point was 10 kilometers apart, which was very dangerous.

Ms. Wang pointed out that because of factors such as high rebates involved, resulting in insufficient funding for the event, the organizers need to cut back on manpower and basic supplies, a common phenomenon for similar events in China.

Mountaineering Association Miss Wang 0524-Cn-marathon-3: We have been discussing this matter in everyone’s circle in the early days. The technical regulations of the event need to be strictly enforced, but because it is an event hosted by the local government, the official input to the event is very limited, and they have not hired professionals from the Association to carry out some work. In many events, there are labor costs, material preparation, in fact, are very tight. All will encounter such problems.

We learned from a local media person that the actual organizer of this large event is a small-scale company with only 20 staff members in Jingyuan County, Baiyin City, the owner’s name is Wu Shiyuan, but he is hosting almost all marathon events in Baiyin City. From 2018 for four consecutive years, all by Wu Shibuan to host the official Jingtai County held the Yellow River Stone Forest Scenic Area 100 km marathon cross-country race.

According to media sources, the event is certified by the China Athletics Association, the Yellow River Stone Forest scenic area to pay, the first three years are allegedly between 1.5 million to 2 million, this year there is no public bidding, directly designated by the local propaganda department by Wu Shibuan continue to host. It was previously rumored that Wu gave the head of the local propaganda ministry, Ding Ke Ya, a kickback of up to 30 percent, while local officials made every effort to mobilize local government-run agencies and volunteers to provide pro bono services to offset their basic expenses. In addition, the organizing company is required to pay at least 30,000 yuan in management fees to the China Athletics Association, which is said to provide event certification and technical guidance, but it turns out that they only issue certificates but not guidance.

Our reporter called Jingtai County Government several times to check, and both the County Party Office and the Propaganda Department kept refusing to answer the phone.

The Party Office of the China Athletics Association told us that the Social Activities Department was responsible for the matter. However, people from the Social Activities Department refused to respond positively.

Athletic Association: I don’t even have an impression of this, you are here to interview me, you are not our higher authority, I can’t talk to you.

Another local media person, Mr. Wu, pointed out that it is already an open phenomenon that large events are monopolized by people with powerful backgrounds.

Mr. Wu said: Oh, that 100 percent should have, not just this contest, and not just the cross-country race, ah, there are a lot of fishy. Why are there so many corrupt officials, is to engage in engineering and large-scale activities. The CP2 and CP3 (supply point) only two volunteers, water, including warm clothes are not, the tent is not set up. This is not already the case.

After the Baiyin marathon cross-country tragedy, the Gansu provincial government announced the establishment of an investigation team to thoroughly investigate the matter, but according to the latest briefing issued by the city of Baiyin, the official still only emphasizes the so-called sudden extreme weather, in addition to a long list of names and titles of officials attending the meeting. The victims of the aftermath of the compensation as well as the pursuit of responsibility, is not mentioned at all.

Comprehensive mainland media reports, the CCDC made criticism of the incident that some events tend to focus only on economic benefits, but are reluctant to invest resources in service and safety, and are in a hurry to get what they want, and believe that the causes and responsibilities of the incident should be thoroughly investigated, to clarify whether the safety and security of the event is in place, and whether relying on temperature and wind forecast data alone is sufficient.

The State General Administration of Sports held an emergency meeting on Sunday night, calling for further strengthening of event safety management in the national sports system. Director Gou Zhongwen acknowledged that there are many sports event organizers, but safety management capabilities vary, and uncontrollable factors such as extreme weather further increase the risk, requiring all departments and units to take responsibility for major events to develop safety work and emergency response plans, and set up a meltdown mechanism.

The Xinhua News Agency described the incident as a tragedy, that the organizer said the cause of the accident was “sudden changes in local weather”, it is difficult to dispel the public’s doubts about the poor organization of the event, in recent years, the flourishing of extreme races, some events to attract attention, the blind pursuit of longer and more difficult routes, the event may cause risks, the lack of scientific assessment and prevention.

The fourth 100-kilometer mountain marathon cross-country race was held last Saturday morning (22) in the Yellow River Stone Forest Scenic Area in Jingtai County, Baiyin City, Gansu Province, with 172 runners participating. The trail is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level, and most of it is uninhabited. Participants in the mountain race midway through the hail, freezing rain, strong winds and other extreme weather, 21 people died of hypothermia, eight people were slightly injured, the most serious death and injury accident in the history of the marathon, the dead include the mainland’s top cross-country runner Liang Jing. The official media criticized the organizer’s contingency plan or inadequate, questioning whether the accident was a natural or man-made disaster.