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2008 Running of Dakar Cancelled

2008 would have marked the 30th anniversary of the Dakar rally but instead it will mark the first time in it's history that it has been cancelled. With less than 24 hours until the event was scheduled to start the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) notified the public in a press release this morning that the rally would not be going forward because of security concerns.

According to the ASO on the Dakar website:

"Based on the current international political tension and the murder of four French tourists last 24th 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 organisations, no other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken by A.S.O."

Some area's along the route have been experiencing great political unrest and violence. On December 24th a French family on holiday were murdered in Mauritania. Local authorities have laid the blame on a terrorist "sleeper cell" linked to a North African faction of al Qaida for the murder of the tourists.

The cancellation will still no doubt come as a shock and huge disappointment to those who were scheduled to participate in the event. The event does generate a lot of economic spin off for the regions it travels through and the event has faced challenges in the past. This isn't the first time they've had terrorist threats... They've also endured land mines, sand storms, and the death of spectators and participants. But the seriousness of the threats this year left the ASO with no alternative.

In their words:

"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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