Wed, Jul 30, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Chinese officials derided for cutting corners in race track

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese officials provoked an outpouring of ridicule on Tuesday when state media reported that they had painted an oval running track at a stadium into a rectangle as they rushed preparations for a visit by their superiors.

Pictures posted online showed that the running surface at the Forestry Administration Stadium in Tonghe County, Heilongjiang Province, had the normal oval shape of a track, but the white lines marking each runner’s lane had been painted into 90o angles.

Internet users leapt on the revelation, with one writing: “Leaders, this is the newly developed right-angled running track” on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, imitating the tone of a lower-ranking Chinese official reporting to his superior. “We have become the first country in the world to have such tracks! I believe [Chinese athletes] will outperform other countries’ [athletes] after scientific training on such a running track!”

China National Radio described the stadium as having “rectangular tracks” around its soccer pitch.

“It is difficult to turn and easy to fall,” local resident Gong Xiaona told provincial television program Newsnight.

The program quoted a stadium staffer as saying that the previous track was worn down by use.

“The current tracks were laid in a rush to deal with the visit by some provincial leaders,” he said. “We ourselves feel it’s ugly, but who can change it if our bosses don’t care?”

It is not unknown for local officials in China to come up with eccentric ideas to curry favor with their bosses or try to pass inspections.

In a similar case last year, a publicly funded orphanage in Jieyang, Guangdong Province, had its facilities transformed into government offices and dormitories, according to previous state media reports.

When provincial authorities mounted an inspection of the orphanage last year, social welfare officials attempted to borrow orphans from a nearby temple.

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