China: 'Space out' competition held in Beijing

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightBeijing TV
image captionXin Shiyu claimed victory after two hours of successfully ignoring the world around him

A competition where the participants are required to "space out" has been held in one of the busiest parts of Beijing.

Eighty people gathered on a major shopping street in the city's business district to take part in the International Space Out Competition, the Xinhua news agency reports. Their challenge was to sit still, oblivious to the distractions of their surroundings, for two hours. Music and smartphones were forbidden, of course, as were any large or sudden movements, Xinhua says. Contestants' composure wasn't just observed externally, though - they also had to keep a steady heart rate, which was checked by a group of volunteers. First held in the South Korean capital, Seoul, in 2014, the competition is now an annual affair.

This year's champion of staring into space was recent university graduate Xin Shiyu, who told Xinhua he liked to maintain a slow pace of life. But other contestants used it as a chance to escape a more hectic existence. "Grabbing two hours to let myself space out, letting myself quietly sit and think - I think this is a really important thing," one woman tells Beijing TV.

One of the event's organisers, Wang Chenbo, tells the channel that staring into space is "a luxury" in today's world. "The everyday rhythm of people's lives is so fast, they work extremely hard," he says. "So I think that, from a modern person's perspective, finding an opportunity to space out is not easy."

image copyrightBeijing TV
image captionSpot the teddy bear: Eighty people, including one in fancy dress, took part in the two-hour competition

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