Beijing orders more toilets at major events

Updated: 2013-11-06 00:24

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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Beijing orders more toilets at major events

Participants in the Beijing Marathon answer the call of nature — in a hedge. The government has ordered organizers of large events to provide enough portable toilets after marathon runners complained there was a shortage of facilities on Oct 20. Hei Ke / for China Daily

Beijing Marathon participants said the city government's order to provide more toilets during major events came too late to prevent well-publicized problems at this year's event, but the ruling is still "better late than never".

Responding to the glaring lack of portable toilets during the capital's 42.195-kilometer marathon this year — a situation that forced many of the 35,000-plus participants to urinate in public — the government has ordered organizers of big events to ensure they provide at least one temporary toilet for every 70 people.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment also emphasized the importance of providing directions to and signs for toilets and cleaning them up soon after the event ends. Any organizing committee failing to comply will face a fine.

The commission did not say how much the fine will be.

Lu Zhen, a 25-year-old Beijing resident who participated in this year's marathon, welcomed the mandate.

"Considering that the lack of temporary toilets has been a tradition for the Beijing Marathon, it's surprising the government did not act until now," he said.

"However, it's better late than never."

Lu said the locations and shortage of temporary toilets has been a problem, with only a few at the starting line, with competitors shivering in the cold while waiting their turn to use the facilities.

"You have to wait six minutes for your turn," he said. "You need some two hours to finish the competition as an experienced runner, and the amateur needs four to five hours, and you can't simply hold it."

Photos of marathon runners, from both China and abroad, urinating against the walls of the Palace Museum during the Beijing Marathon created a splash online.

Wang Zhiyong, a resident of Beijing's Dongcheng district, said the situation was "disgusting".

"It's hard to imagine crowds of people urinating in public without any shame," he said.

Luo Yin, another participant in this year's marathon, said the limited number of temporary toilets made things very difficult and especially embarrassing for female competitors.

"Guys can urinate outside, whereas the girls can only hold it or wait in line," she said.

The competition is grand in scale and the participants' performances are impressive, yet the absence of toilets ruins it, Luo said.

"The organizing committee suggested the participants drink less water, and local residents blame the runners for their improper behavior, yet no one really thought about the organizing committee's responsibility until now."

The organizing committee said before the new regulation was released that it had set up about 300 temporary toilets, most near the starting line, ensuring there was one toilet for every 100 runners.

Committee members said they have witnessed occasional public urinations, but the shortage of toilets made an impression with the public this year.

The government commission said it drew up the rules this year because of the strong reaction of netizens.

Tadese Tola from Ethiopia broke the event's record set 27 years ago, winning the men's race, and Zhang Yingying from China won the women's race.