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China punishing 27 officials after deadly ultramarathon

Investigators determined the incident occurred as a result of poor quality and unprofessional management, and have dismissed several government officials from their posts

Runners everywhere were shocked last month when they learned on May 23 that 21 athletes had died of hypothermia when extreme weather hit the Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon in the northwestern province of Gansu, China. According to a report by CNBC, 27 government officials deemed responsible for the incident, which was one of the world’s deadliest sporting tragedies in recent history, have been punished.

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The Gansu government opened a formal investigation soon after the tragedy occurred, and on Friday they announced that several government officials had been dismissed from their posts, including the head of Jingtai county, where the race was held. The mayor and the Communist Party chief of the city of Baiyin, the jurisdiction in which Jingtai belongs, were also dismissed, while several others received major “demerit ratings” and disciplinary warnings.

According to the investigators, the tragedy was a public safety incident, caused by extreme weather, high winds and cold temperatures, along with unprofessional organization and operation. Just over a week ago, China’s sport administration also announced that it was suspending all high-risk sports events that lack a supervisory body, established rules and clear safety standards, including mountain and desert trail sports, wingsuit flying and ultra-long distance running.

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