The General Administration of Sport of China released a notice on its official website on Thursday calling for strengthening the supervision and management of outdoor sports events, noting that climbing mountains of more than 7,000 meters should be subject to approval.
Local sports authorities at all levels should strengthen the supervision of outdoor sports events within their jurisdiction and have a comprehensive understanding of the natural resources and environmental conditions suitable for holding outdoor sports events, the notice said.
Local sports authorities should also actively establish a collaborative working mechanism with multiple departments, including public security, health, emergency management, and meteorology, and issue specific regulatory measures to guide relevant departments to strengthen self-discipline and perform their duties.
Outdoor sports have become the choice of growing numbers of people in China. According to statistics released by the authorities, more than 170 million people practiced outdoor sports in 2021 and more than 60 million participated in professional sporting activities with an annual growth rate of 10 percent.
China's outdoor sports industry is still in its infancy. Laws and regulations, policies, industry standards and even public awareness are yet to be perfect and sound, and lag behind the rapid growth of the industry.
The most obvious manifestation is that the number of outdoor adventure sports-related injuries and deaths is increasing year by year. There were 352 accidents related to adventure sports, with 308 deaths and 19 missing in 2021. The total number of accidents increased by 187 and the number of deaths grew by 227 compared to 2020.
21 people, including two of the country's best long-distance runners, were declared dead in 2021 due to extreme cold weather in a 100-kilometer mountain race held in Northwest China's Gansu Province, one of the deadliest tragedies in China's marathons.
The notice made it clear that organizers of outdoor sports events should pay close attention to warnings and information on natural disasters and accidents issued by relevant departments to ensure that a "circuit breaker" mechanism can be activated in a timely manner.
Moreover, the announcement noted that mountain-climbing activities at more than 3,500 meters, or 5,000 meters in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, must be approved by provincial sports authorities. Climbing mountains over 7,000 meters shall be subject to the approval of the General Administration of Sport in accordance with the law.
According to the official website of the General Administration of Sport, a strict process is required to apply for climbing activities on mountains over 7,000 meters in China, including an application form, relevant qualification certificates, an approval letter from the sports administrative department, a mountaineering plan, equipment list and a physical examination certificate.
Climbing Mount Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is even more demanding, with the requirement of previous "climbing experience on a 7,000-meter peak" proving daunting for many to obtain a permit from the authorities.