Cutting corners on China track
CHINESE officials painted a rectangular running track at a stadium as they rushed preparations for a visit by their superiors, state media reported yesterday.
Pictures posted online showed the running surface had the normal oval shape, but the white lines marking out each runner's lane had 90-degree turns.
Internet users leaped on the revelation. "Leaders, this is the newly developed right-angled running track," wrote one poster on China's Twitter-like 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 a track! I believe (Chinese athletes) will outperform other countries' (athletes) after scientific training on such a running track!"
China National Radio described the forestry administration stadium in Tonghe county, in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, as having "rectangular tracks" around the football pitch.
"It is difficult to turn and easy to fall," local resident Gong Xiaona told provincial television programme Newsnight.
It quoted a staff member at the stadium as saying the previous track was worn out after long use.
"The current track was laid in a rush for a visit by some provincial leaders," he said.
"We, too, 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 favour with their bosses or cope with inspections.
A publicly funded orphanage in Jieyang in the southern province of Guangdong had its facilities transformed into government offices and dormitories, according to previous state media reports.
When the provincial authorities mounted an inspection last year, social welfare officials tried to borrow orphans from a nearby temple.