Investigation into deadly Chinese ultramarathon leads to arrests, suicides | China News

Investigators said the tragedy was a public safety incident caused by extreme weather and unprofessional organizations.

The state media, People’s Daily, said on Friday that China has punished at least 27 government officials believed to be responsible for the deaths in the ultramarathon last month, and the government confirmed a report of a senior county official who died by suicide.

On May 22, in the rugged northwestern Gansu Province, extreme cold weather suddenly appeared during a government-organized 100-kilometer (62-mile) marathon, and 21 people died of hypothermia.

This is one of the deadliest sports tragedies in the world in modern history.

According to the Gansu Provincial Government, at least five officials have been arrested in the province.

The People’s Daily quoted investigators’ press conference as reporting that the magistrate of Jingtai County, where the competition was held, was also removed.

Other organizers held accountable include the mayor and secretary of the municipal party committee of Baiyin City under the jurisdiction of Jingtai.

Penalties for officials include serious demerits and disciplinary warnings.

According to official media reports, Jingtai County Party Secretary Li Zuobi also fell from his apartment building to his death on June 9, adding that the police had ruled out the possibility of homicide, and the cause of Li’s death is still under investigation.

Officials initially remained silent about Li’s death, leading to speculation that it was related to the investigation of the deadly race.

Investigators said that this ultra-marathon tragedy was a public safety incident caused by extreme weather such as strong winds, heavy rain, and sudden temperature drops, as well as unprofessional organizations and operations.

The General Administration of Sports of China said last week that it will suspend all high-risk sports events that lack regulatory agencies, established rules and clear safety standards.

Activities stopped include mountain and desert cross-country sports, wingsuit flying and ultra-long running.

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