January 5, 2008 For the first time in its 30-year history, the Dakar Rally has been canceled, the day before it was due to start, due to direct threats launched against the race by terrorist organizations based in the area. It appears the event may be moved to sub-Saharan Africa from 2009 onwards. We commiserate with race fans, organizers and the 550-odd competitors for many of whom this "Everest of off-road" event is a lifelong dream.
The official Dakar Rally homepage bears the bleak news today - after the murder of four French tourists in Maghreb just before Christmas, and a number of direct threats the Dakar committee received from Islamic terrorist groups in the region, the decision was made by the organizers of the 2008 Dakar, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), to cancel this year’s event: "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."
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Responses supporting the decision are also beginning to flow in from leading competitors. Stefan Pierer CEO of KTM said the decision was the only logical one to take after the French authorities were no longer able to guarantee participant safety. "Also when this was a very difficult decision for us, we give it our 100% support,” Pierer said.
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