NO DAKAR IN CHILE: The Chilean government says mud slides in its northern region has forced it to withdraw from hosting the 2016 Dakar Rally. Image: AP / Pablo Sanhueza
SANTIAGO, Chile - Chile is pulling out of the 2016 Dakar Rally, citing flash floods that have hit the northern, desert region of the South American country.
The Chilean sports ministry says it will not spend about R83-million to host sections of the three-week rally, with the funds being better used for rebuilding areas devastated by the floods.
Sports minister Natalia Riffo said the decision was taken after consulting with Dakar Rally organisers and said the "door was open" to rejoining the rally in 2017.
Riffo said: "One adapts to the reality of our citizens in the north and our immediate concern is to rebuilt the affected areas and channel the resources to people who need them."
The government says it will spend about billions rebuilding the area.
The rally, held in January 2015 covered legs in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. It was not clear how the rally would be re-routed next year to skip Chile.
The rally has been run in South America since 2009, moving from Africa because of security problems.