Jan 7th, 2008 by RJ Menezes
The Dakar Rally is a legendary competition. It pushes man and machine to the very limits of endurance and is a challenge not suited for the weak. Competitors compete on everything from motorcycles to rally cars to even big rig trucks! It has been a staple of extreme motor sports for over three decades.
Well now it seems that track record is about to be broken. Citing terrorist threats as the main cause, the French government and Dakar’s governing body, Amaury Sport Organization which also is the power behind the Tour de France, have canceled the rally for this year. It is the first time in the 30-year history of the event that the rally has been canceled.
The race had been scheduled to conclude January 20 in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Several stages were routed through Mauritania, a former French colony in Northern Africa but things took a deadly turn.
Just before Christmas, four French tourists were slain in Mauritania by a group with alleged links to al Qaeda, prompting warnings against travel by the French Foreign Ministry.
The group issued this statement : “Based on the current international political tension and the murder of four French tourists… but also and mainly the direct threats launched against the race by terrorist organizations, no other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken by A.S.O.”
Though the organizers promised to make up for it in 2009, it does not change the fact that many competitors were furious, some even threatening to do the rally anyways. Grown men wept openly as the announcements were made. It was a sad sight indeed, according to those present.
Hopefully, this will be a wake up call to many people. Terrorism does not care what your affiliation is.