In shock news received today, the organisers of this years Dakar rally have confirmed that the event due to get underway from the Portugese capital on the 5th of January has been cancelled. The decision to cancel this yearâ€™s rally was made in the face of direct threats launched against the race by terrorists.
An official statement issued by Amaury Sport Organisation (the rally organisers) stated that:
"After different exchanges with the French government - in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs - , and based on their firm recommendations, the organisers of the Dakar have taken the decision to cancel the 2008 edition of the rally... 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."
The statement went on to refer to "direct threats launched directly against the race", saying that "no other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken by A.S.O.".
Assuming an absence of terrorist threats in 2009, the Paris Dakar rally will once again feature on the motorsport calendar.