4 December 2023

Misleading: Video shows Chengdu Marathon, not people taking PCR tests in China

The video shows marathon participants waiting for the start on Nov. 20, 2022.

On Nov. 20, a video clip showing big groups of people queueing up on the street was shared widely on Twitter (for example, here and here).

It was circulating with a claim that the video shows thousands of people in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in China, going through the daily PCR test to keep their health code green.

In Chengdu, a green health code issued by the municipal government means people can travel between different public places without restrictions.

The clip has been viewed over 40,000 times as of this writing.

However, the claim is misleading. This video actually shows people taking part in the 2022 Chengdu Marathon on Nov. 20.

Annie Lab found the original Douyin video by searching the handle watermarked in the Twitter video. The Douyin post indicated the crowd joined the Chengdu Marathon.

We also found other videos (here and here) on Douyin showing similar scenes from the Chengdu Marathon uploaded on the same day.

According to the sporting event’s website, the race began at 7:30 a.m. from the Jinsha Site Museum Tourist Center and covered six districts in Chengdu.

By enlarging the original video, we can see a hotel named “兰子酒店” (Lanzi Hotel) and a street sign with a four-character word. Two characters in the middle read “江中” (Jiang Zhong).

Names of the hotel and a street are visible in the video

We then geolocated the hotel using Baidu Maps and found the street in the video.

Street view from Baidu Maps.

Lanzi Hotel is located between Huangyuan Street and Jinbo Road, a few hundred meters from the Marathon’s starting line outside the Jinsha Site Museum.

The section between Huangyuan Street and Jinbo Road was where the assembly areas D and E were set up, according to the starting point layout.

The signs of areas D and E can be seen in the Twitter video, and their positions match the layout.

In the video, some participants appear to be warming up; others were likely to be standing in line for the portable toilets or drinking stations.

Features found in the Twitter video and their relative positions matched the layout of the start area.

In one of the Douyin videos filmed just before the marathon started, an “E” sign can be seen, which also appeared in the Twitter video.

Similar scenes are shown in Twitter and Douyin videos.

According to the requirements of the race, all participants had to provide a negative result of a nucleic acid test conducted within 24 hours before they could enter the marathon area.

They also had to prove they were negative for three consecutive days prior to that and show a proof of vaccination before they could take their marathon gear.

Invited participants from outside Chengdu, on the other hand, had to complete two rounds of nucleic acid tests within 48 hours before their arrival in Chengdu and another three rounds within 72 hours upon arrival.

Local runners were also prohibited from leaving the city before the marathon.