An official involved jumped to his death, and five race organizers were arrested and faced criminal charges over the deaths of 21 athletes in Gansu in May.

The Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon 100km runners set off at 9am, unaware of the tragedy that awaited them a few hours later.  Photo: Weibo

The Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon 100km runners set off at 9am, unaware of the tragedy that awaited them a few hours later. Image: Weibo

On June 11, authorities announced that Li Zuobi – the chief of the Canh Thai district office – had just died after falling from the apartment’s high floor. “There is no suspicious cause of death. It was a suicide,” South China Morning Post quoted Deputy Director of Gansu Provincial Public Security Li Ming.

Earlier, there were rumors about Mr. Li Zuobi’s death. However, local officials have remained tight-lipped, fueling widespread speculation online.

On June 12, the investigation committee announced the decision to handle the case after more than three working weeks. Accordingly, Mr. Li Zoubi is one of 27 Gansu province officials who are blamed for the deaths of 21 athletes on the track on May 22. In addition, five people from the company organizing the race were arrested and also face criminal charges.

According to the sheet People’s DailyMs. Zhang Wenling, Chairman of Jingtai District, was dismissed. Mr. Li Zuobi is Ms. Zhang’s subordinate. Baiyin City Party Secretary, Su Jun and Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen also faced some form of discipline. Meanwhile, Ding Keya and Luo Wentao, two managers of the district’s propaganda department, continue to be investigated for corruption charges.

According to the investigative committee, the cause of the tragedy was “severe weather effects, substandard organization and management, and unprofessional organizational activities”. Because of the problem with the organization, the athletes did not bring suitable clothes, so they suffered from hypothermia when facing high winds and the temperature dropped rapidly in mountainous areas, resulting in a large number of casualties.

“The organizers did not have a sense of risk prevention. Before the race, the meteorological department sent information about gusts, but no defensive measures were taken. The organizers did not force the athletes to standard. equipped with windproof and warm equipment suitable for high mountain race requirements Emergency plans and safety measures for the event are not developed according to regulatory and force standards The emergency rescue team was not seriously prepared,” the investigation concluded.

Liu Changsong, director of the Beijing Mugong Law Firm, said those charged would face up to seven years in prison. “Incidents with three or more deaths are considered ‘particularly serious’. In this case with up to 21 deaths, those directly responsible will face prison terms of three to seven years,” he said. Mr. Liu said.

According to a lawyer who is protecting the families of the victims, the fact that athletes signed a waiver before the start of the race does not mean that the organizers are free. The lawyer, who asked not to be named, argued that organizers of an event could be held liable if their actions represented negligence, even if participants had accepted the risks associated with the event.

“Long-distance races carry well-recognised risks. But the organizers have an obligation to ensure the safety of the participants, including assessing road conditions, preparing supplies, predicting time weather changes …”, the lawyer said.

The investigation sets forth more detailed theories about what happened in the May 22 tragedy at the 100km mountain road race in Gansu province. The report said 172 runners started the race at 9am and it started to rain 90 minutes later. The temperature drops from 5 to 7 degrees, in about five hours. After noon, the organizers began to receive messages about the contestants’ withdrawal from the race.

Just over two hours later, when many athletes gave up, the race was halted and rescuers were sent to the scene, bringing warm clothes and blankets. But at this time, the organizers have not made an official announcement. It was not until May 23 that the rescue team found the last victim’s body. The organizers confirmed 21 athletes died, besides eight others were injured.

The death of 21 athletes, including famous runners, angered Chinese public opinion. Many comments on social networks accused the Bach Ngan provincial government of lacking a methodical plan. China’s General Administration of Sports announced at the beginning of June that it will indefinitely suspend all high-risk sports events, including trail running, cross-desert walking, ultra-marathon… Since 2019, 25 ultra-marathons have been held in China, according to the China Athletics Association.

Xuan Thang synthetic


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