Dakar Rally cancelled UPDATE The cancellation is set to leave organizers in excess of £26million out of pocket. Inside sources at the Dakar Rally told GPUpdate.net that the real reason the event was called off is because no insurance company would agree to cover the event following the terror threats, not simply that the organizers decided to call it off on their own merit.
01/04/08 This year's Dakar Rally has been cancelled at the last minute. The organizers decided not to go ahead with the race due to concerns about the security situation in Mauritania, where nine stages of the rally were to be held.
Four French tourists were shot dead in Mauritania on Christmas Eve, by gunmen who are believed to have links with al-Qaeda. On Thursday, France warned of the danger of terrorist attacks during the rally and advised the organizers to cancel the event.
The Rally was due to begin tomorrow in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, ending in Dakar in Senegal on 20 January. Some 570 teams had registered this year, including 54 from the Netherlands.
"Based on the current international political tension and the murder of four French tourists last 28th of December linked to a branch of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, but also and mainly the direct threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organizations, no other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken by A.S.O.," said the organizers in a statement.
"A.S.O.'s first responsibility is to guarantee the safety of all: that of the populations in the countries visited, of the amateur and professional competitors, of the technical assistance personnel, of the journalists, partners and rally collaborators. A.S.O. therefore reaffirms that the choice of security is not, has never been and will never be a subject of compromise at the heart of the Dakar rally.
"A.S.O. condemns the terrorist menace that annihilates a year of hard work, engagement and passion for all the participants and the different actors of the world's biggest off-road rally.
"Aware of the huge frustration, especially in Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal, and beyond the general disappointment and the huge economical consequences in terms of direct and indirect repercussions for the countries visited, A.S.O. will continue to defend the major values of great sporting events and will carry on its engagement for a durable development through the Actions Dakar, started 5 years ago in sub-Saharan Africa with SOS Sahel International.
"The Dakar is a symbol and nothing can destroy symbols. The cancellation of the 2008 edition does not endanger the future of the Dakar. To offer, for 2009 a new adventure to all the off-road rally passionate is a challenge that A.S.O. will take on in the months to come, faithful to its engagement and its passion for sports."