'Give us back our Dakar rally!'
WHO OWNS THE DAKAR? Senegalese tourism minister Youssou n'Dour wants his Dakar rally back, please! Image: AFP
DAKAR, Senegal - Singer and current Senegalese tourism minister Youssou n'Dour believes it's time for the Dakar rally, held in South America for the past five years, to return home to its roots... Senegal.
The past five races, currently under way in Peru, have been held outside Senegal because of security problems five years ago but N'Dour says it should "resume its route" back in Africa or else change its name, a source close to him told AFP.LOSING MONEY
Charles Faye, N'Dour's communications officer, said: "For Youssou N'Dour, there is no question of the rally continuing to retain the Dakar name and yet not run in Africa. Either the race resumes in Africa - or it drops the Dakar name."
"The organisers are free to go where they want but they shouldn't keep the Dakar name (as that entails) using backing (from advertisers) which earn money," Faye indicated, claiming that Dakar was losing "considerably" in terms of tourism since the event moved continents.Full Dakar gallery
The decision to move the race came in 2007 after the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania by a pro-Al Qaeda group in the Maghreb as well as the killings of three Mauritanian soldiers. The killings, just before the race was due to begin, saw the participants stay in Lisbon rather than head for Africa and the race was cancelled.
The event was then moved to South America, which also has deserts, beaches and wild mountainous terrain.
The 2013 race, running to January 20, takes in Peru and Chile as well as making an incursion into Argentina and crossing the Andes mountains.