China Indefinitely Bans All Extreme Sports Events in Wake of Death of 21 Ultra Runners

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Trail running events banned in China. Credit: Brian Metzler on Unsplash

China has banned indefinitely extreme sports events, including ultramarathon, trail marathons, and wingsuit flying, in the wake of the deaths of twenty-one ultra runners last month.

Last Saturday, the runners were killed when extreme weather hit during their ultra-marathon in the mountainous section of a 62-mile (100km) race.

Hail, freezing rain, and high winds bombarded runners during the high-altitude section of the race held in the scenic Yellow River Stone Forest near Baiyin city in northwestern Gansu province. Many were not dressed for such weather, wearing just vests and shorts.

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 to fully guarantee the health and to safeguard the lives of the people.” Events affected include cross-country running, wingsuit flying, ultramarathons, and desert races.

Local authorities have also been ordered not to hold competitive sporting events unless necessary and to cancel any other high-risk events.

After the tragedy of the Gansu race, several marathons and running events were postponed or canceled. Family members and survivors are demanding accountability for what they are saying was a “manmade disaster.”

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