BEIJING – China has punished 27 government officials held responsible for the deaths in ultramarathons last month, the state-run People’s Daily, one of the world’s deadliest sports tragedies in recent history, said on Friday.
Twenty-one people died of hypothermia when extremely cold weather suddenly descended in a government-organized 100 km marathon on May 22 in the rugged Gansu province in the northwest of the country.
The head of Jingtai County, where the race took place, was removed from her post, the People’s Daily reported, citing a press conference by investigators.
Other responsible organizers were the mayor and the head of the Communist Party of the city of Baiyin, to which the jurisdiction of Jingtai belongs.
Other punishments imposed on officials included significant demerit scores and disciplinary warnings.
Li Zuobi, the Jingtai County party chief, fell from his apartment building on June 9 and died, state media reported, adding that police ruled out the killing while Li’s death was being investigated.
It was unclear if Li’s death was related to the ultramarathon.
Investigators said the tragedy was a public safety incident triggered by extreme weather that included high winds, heavy rain and low temperatures, as well as unprofessional organization and operation.
China’s sports administration said last week that it would suspend all high-risk sporting events that lack a supervisory body, established rules and clear safety standards.
Activities include mountain sports and desert trails, wingsuit flying, and long-distance running.
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