Godfrey Gao

SHANGHAI — Taiwanese-Canadian model and actor Godfrey Gao passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, his management Jetstar has confirmed, after falling while participating in a TV obstacle-course game show.

Gao, 35, was filming the show, Chase Me, which airs on the mainland Chinese channel Zhejiang Television, when he suddenly collapsed and died due to cardiac arrest.

The show is an obstacle-course race similar to programs like American Ninja Warrior and involves a series of elaborate physical tasks for its contestants. For example, previous tasks have included jumping atop of rotating blocks positioned over a ball pit and scaling the sides of tall buildings while tethered by ropes.

A statement from Jetstar posted on Wednesday morning read:

“In the early hours of Nov. 27, our beloved Godfrey collapsed while filming on set. Unfortunately, following three hours of medical rescue efforts, he left us. We are very shocked and saddened and even until now find it impossible to accept. Thank you media friends and every fan of Godfrey’s for their concern. His management and team were by his side and his family were urgently rushed to the location. Please respect Godfrey’s family in this time of sorrow and refrain from disturbing them. We will accompany Godfrey’s family to handle discreet funeral arrangements. Thank you, everyone.”

Gao’s body was to be transported back to Taipei from Ningbo in Zhejiang province where the show films.

A separate statement from the show, Chase Me, said Gao fell to the ground while running and that medical staff on site had attended to him immediately although he succumbed due to heart issues. The show expressed “incomparable pain and complete sorrow” over the incident.

Born Sept. 22, 1984, in Taiwan as Tsao Chih-Hsiang, Gao moved as a child to Vancouver and went on to study at Capilano University. He was known to be soft-spoken but athletic and with a big love of basketball.

His big career break came when he became the first Asian model to be cast by Louis Vuitton, appearing in their 2011 advertisement campaign. He later reached celebrity status in greater China and much of Asia thanks to his lead role in the television drama “Remembering Lichuan.”

His passing was the number-one trending topic on China’s Sina Weibo on Wednesday and by the afternoon had also sparked a nationwide conversation under the hashtag #dontfilm, with many netizens questioning the difficulty of the physical challenges on the show.

Gao had also appeared in several movies including the 2013 Hollywood production The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and The Jade Pendant, as well as Chinese blockbusters like Shanghai Fortress.