Organisers of deadly 2021 China ultramarathon ordered to jail

  • BEIJING: Organisers of a 2021 ultramarathon in northwest China during which 21 runners died in extreme weather conditions have been sentenced to years in prison for their roles, state media claimed.
  • Five individuals involved in planning the ill-fated event were given jail terms ranging from three years to five and a half years by a court in Baiyin, a city in Gansu province, where the deaths occurred, state news agency Xinhua reported late Friday (Dec 15).
  • In May 2021, the 100km cross-country mountain race turned deadly as freezing rain, high winds and hail hit the participants.
  • The five defendants were convicted for “organising a large-scale event that led to a significant safety incident”, said Xinhua.
  • In the regional capital of Lanzhou, an official was sentenced to four years and 10 months for “dereliction of duty and bribery”, and another to three and a half years for “dereliction of duty”, Xinhua added.
  • Long-distance running and other extreme sports have been booming in China in recent years, as the government pushes exercise for all ages, though slipshod organisation has repeatedly caused problems.
  • The 2021 incident raised questions over why organisers apparently ignored the incoming extreme weather and led to renewed calls for tighter laws surrounding sports events.
  • In the wake of the deaths, Beijing’s General Administration of Sport stated that events without national safety standards would be suspended, including mountain trail running, wingsuit flying and ultra-long distance running.

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