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Dakar no rally for 2008


I've returned from the Silly Season holidays to find the world has been getting sillier while I've been away - organisers have decided to cancel this year's 2008 Dakar rally for...

..."safety reasons."

Safety reasons? Are we all talking about the same rally? The only reason I watch the TV coverage of the Dakar rally is because there's not nearly enough safety.

Last year Australian households gathered together to watch Race to Dakar in huge numbers, all hoping that the intensely annoying Charley Boorman might smack into Ewan McGregor and take them both out, killing two birds with one stone-damaged BMW.

We know from past Dakars that competitors killing themselves and each other is regrettable, but no reason to cancel the race. Since 1979 the race has killed 47 competitors and a great many officials, spectators and innocent bystanders. In the last 20 years Formula One has transformed itself into a sport no more dangerous than riding on a shopping trolley while your mum pushes it around Coles. Meanwhile, safety regulations imposed upon the Dakar have made little difference, with multiple fatalities again last year.

Reading between the lines, it looks like the 'safety issues' are specific threats of terrorism against competitors and race officials.

The exact nature of the threats isn't reported, but it must have been an action that threatened even more than the usual number of deaths.

That would be some action!

If that's really what's going on - would it be too paranoid to wonder if event sponsors have had enough of their brand being associated with reckless threats to life? That they might have threatened to withdraw sponsorship at the last moment? That organisers might be searching for an alibi to cancel this year's event while they put further safety regulations in place and placate sponsors?

We'll probably never know what the terrorists had planned, but if instead of cancelling the race this year, the organisers detailed the risks, competitors were aware of the risks, and the media were prepared to cover it... would you all still watch?