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China suspends unregulated sports after deadly ultramarathon

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Rescue workers carry a stretcher as they work at the site where extreme cold weather killed participants of an 100-km ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province, China May 22, 2021. Picture taken May 22, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS.

China on Wednesday said it would suspend all sports competitions that lack national safety standards, after extreme weather at an ultramarathon killed twenty-one runners and sparked calls for more regulation.

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Beijing’s General Administration of Sport said that events suspended included mountain trail running, wingsuit flying and ultra-long distance running.

They did not say how long the suspension would last, and it is unclear whether athletes will still be allowed to train while it is in effect.

Long-distance running and other extreme sports are booming in China as the government heavily promotes exercise for all ages.

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But safety concerns have plagued poorly-regulated competitions that have sprung up across the country.

Those concerns came to a head last month, when a 100-kilometre (60-mile) cross-country mountain race in the northwestern province of Gansu turned deadly as freezing rain, high winds and hail hit the competitors.

It raised questions over why organisers apparently ignored the incoming extreme weather and led to renewed calls for tighter laws surrounding sporting events.

Regulators in response promised to “conduct a comprehensive review of sports events… and improve standards and regulations.”

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