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Safety concerns end Dakar Rally

Stephane Peterhansel celebrates his 2007 Dakar Rally victory
Peterhansel claimed victory in the Dakar Rally last year

The 2008 Dakar Rally has been cancelled because of safety concerns in the African republic of Mauritania.

Four French tourists were murdered in Mauritania on 24 December, which led to the French government advising against any travel to the country.

Eight of the rally's 15 stages were due to pass through Mauritania.

The event's organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation, said there had been "direct threats against the race issued by terrorist groups".

The annual car and motorcycle marathon had been due to start in Lisbon on 5 January with the finish coming in Dakar on 20 January.

"Following several consultations with the French government and taking into account its firm recommendations, the organisers of the Dakar have taken the decision to cancel the 2008 edition of the rally," said an ASO statement.


"Based on the current international political tension and the murder of four French tourists but also and mainly the direct threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organisations, no other decision but the cancellation could be taken.

"The ASO's first responsibility is to guarantee the safety of all. The ASO 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.

"The Dakar is a symbol and nothing can destroy symbols. The cancellation of the 2008 edition does not endanger the future of the Dakar."

Daniel Bilalian, head of sport for event broadcasters France Televisions, added that "wisdom had prevailed".

"If the slightest incident had happened, it would have been the credibility of the ASO that would have been at stake," he said.

The Dakar Rally has been held uninterrupted since 1979 although in the past, stages have been cancelled.

Stephane Peterhansel claimed his ninth Dakar Rally title when he won the car event last year.

see also
Peterhansel claims Dakar triumph
21 Jan 07 |  Rallying

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