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October 8, 2019

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I’m abuzz with results of ‘delicacy management’

Shanghai was clearly eyeing a rebranding campaign when it crafted a slogan a year ago touting its services, products, shopping environment and culture — the so-called “four new visiting cards.”

Allow me to add another attribute that will further enrich Shanghai’s brand value. The city deserves credit for its sophisticated urban management, or “Shanghai management.”

In recent years, an oft-repeated phrase among media professionals is “delicacy management,” a term originally from Japan which means the process of breaking down complex matters into smaller issues and solving them one by one, often with remarkable attention to detail.

I had experience of this delicacy management recently. With a ticket gifted by a friend, I watched a basketball game at the Oriental Sports Center as Shanghai played host to part of the 2019 Basketball World Cup held in several cities across China.

Unlike many fans who were cheering on their favorite teams from beginning to end, my attention was focused on something else.

Why did there appear to be no mosquitoes in the building? Sitting on the bleachers inside an open-top stadium or closed gymnasium is usually a horror for me as I am a magnet for mosquitoes. Normally when other spectators count the final scores, I am left counting the mosquito bites.

This usual headache, however, didn’t occur at the sports center. This left me wondering since the 50,000 square meter artificial lake outside the center and a construction site in the vicinity should have been infested with mosquitoes.

Out of curiosity I searched online for possible answers.

Unremitting effort pays

According to the Pudong News, a local newspaper, a task force was formed in the run-up to the Basketball World Cup, incorporating the district-level disease control center, the sports center’s management, local health and sanitation officials, and a company responsible for pest control.

It was reported that at night sanitation workers drew insects close using flashlights and killed them with pesticide from hand-held sprayers.

After each game, the center was closed for a thorough clean-up involving the use of mosquito repellent.

The organizer also dispatched a team of five maintenance workers to inspect every corner of the center during the duration of the World Cup, and they were expected to act immediately should mosquitoes be spotted. What’s more, vehicle-mounted sprayers were used outside on shrubs and the wetland.

In an interview with the Pudong News, Zhou Binbin, general manager of the company serving the sports center, said it has been engaged in mosquito prevention and control since 2011, primarily through biological means.

“Gambusia affinis (mosquituofish) preys on the larva of mosquitoes,” said Zhou. “So we have let loose gambusia affinis into the artificial lake adjoining the sports center for three consecutive years. None of the larva can survive a colony of tens of thousands of their natural predators.”

Shanghai’s relentless efforts to create a mosquito-free environment for sports fans have illustrated the great lengths its officials are willing to go to in order to deliver a superb game-watching experience.

Traditionally, pest control is perhaps the least of the organizer’s concerns as priority is given to registration, venue management, crowd control, traffic diversion and other aspects deemed more important to the success of a sports tournament. Mosquito control is presumably way down the list of priorities.

By highlighting its preparedness in the face of an important public event, Pudong is exemplifying one of the city’s most cherished ethos — “leaving no stone unturned” in the provision of public service — which is enough reason for the city to endear itself to residents and visitors. To be sure, similar examples of delicacy management are myriad.

From new garbage-sorting rules to the installation of elevators in old, walk-up apartment buildings, Shanghai is emerging as a pacesetter in the adoption of delicacy management.

But, at least for me, no story perhaps better captures the full extent of the city’s commitment to this goal than the pleasant absence of mosquitoes during the basketball tournament.


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