The 2008 Dakar rally has been canceled just one day before the 30th edition of the historic competition was due to start in Lisbon, Portugal.
The late move was initiated over security concerns with at least eight of the fifteen stages passing through Mauritania in western Africa. An announcement issued by the event organizers A.S.O today stated that:
"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."
"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."
52 Yamaha riders from a list of more than 250 were set to take the start in Lisbon. A.S.O has vowed that the future of the rally is not at threat. "The Dakar is a symbol and nothing can destroy symbols. The cancellation of the 2008 edition does not endanger the future of the Dakar," the statement also read.