Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao died at the age of 35, while filming Chase Me, a Chinese reality show by Zhejiang TV.
There have been calls for the cancellation of the Chinese reality show all over Twitter and Weibo, shortly after Gao was officially declared dead.
What is Chase Me?
The Chinese reality show first debuted earlier this month, on Nov. 8, 2019.
Besides the regular cast, which is made up of actors, actresses, and singers, the show also features celebrity guests on its weekly programme.
During the programme, cast members and guests are split into two teams, where they compete against each other to win races.
The activities in the show revolve around intense physical activities, such as obstacle courses, rope climbing, and various types of stunts.
Here are some examples:
What's the controversy?
Shortly after Gao's death, the Chinese hashtag #StopFilming went viral on Weibo, calling for Chase Me to be cancelled.
Several Weibo users shared snippets of the show where other guests and cast members were visibly on the brink of exhaustion, or made to do activities that they were reluctant to participate in.
Zou Shiming, a Chinese professional boxer and two-time Olympic champion, was a guest member in the second episode of the show, and was visibly distressed during one of the activities.
Zou was stuck in a deep ball pit and was unable to get out on his own, despite repeatedly trying to do so.
After the production crew helped him out of the ball pit, he was visibly out of breath, and the host mentioned that Zou had a leg cramp.
In a fan video posted on Nov. 27, a Weibo user claimed that a cast member, Wu Xuanyi, had fallen into the ball pit for almost 10 minutes without anyone helping her out.
Fans present at the filming had apparently heard her shouting, "I really don't have any more energy, can someone please help me?" in Mandarin before production crew came to her aid.
Lucas Wong, a rapper from K-pop group NCT was featured as a guest on episode three of Chase Me.
Twitter users shared several fan videos of Wong panting and unable to breathe properly while filming the show.
Many others online posted similar comments, calling for the show either to be revamped or cancelled totally.
They need to revamp this show or cancel it altogether because this is ridiculous. Based on what I've seen for #ChaseMe, this program pushes celebrities past their limit for the sake of entertainment. And now, one of the guests (Godfrey Gao) has passed away due to that extremity.— Luna 🏵 (@LunaIsFree_) November 27, 2019
Gao reportedly worked for 17 hours straight before collapsing
Witnesses said that Gao was allegedly heard repeatedly saying, "I can't go on anymore" before he collapsed during filming.
According to Taiwan News, the 35-year-old actor had apparently died of a heart attack.
News sources on Weibo also reported that the actor had been filming on set for 17 hours straight, before he collapsed.
Gao started filming the show at 8:30am on Nov. 26, and worked until Nov. 27, 1:45am, when he collapsed.
The post also added that he had been down with flu the day before the filming started, but was feeling fine on the day of filming.
Statement from production team
Hours after Gao's death, the production team of Chase Me released an official statement.
"On Nov. 27, the ninth week of the filming of Chase Me, Godfrey Gao, the guest of the week, had collapsed onto the ground suddenly while running.
The production crew's medical team had rushed to save him, and urgently sent him to the hospital. After more than two hours of resuscitation, the hospital ultimately declared Godfrey Gao dead, due to heart-related issues.
We are extremely pained and upset with the outcome.
During the time of incident, the production team had stood by Godfrey at all times, and are in the midst of contacting his family members to assist in relevant matters."