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Critics And The Dakar Race

  Posted at 09:31:43 AM
  File under  Dakar Race Opinion
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Dakar 2009 logo
Although the Dakar race has millions of fans around the world, passionately waiting to see some footage late at night on the TV, or read some stories about an adventurous motorcycle rider stuck in the desert while trying to finish a life-long ambition of competing in this mythical race, the sport also has its enemies.

Unfortunately, because of the dangers involved in this race, and the too many deadly accidents, some governments are starting to make alarming noises to stop the race. But that's politicians for you, since the race is so popular, they are afraid to do something about it, but they have to pander to the anti-Dakar people, so they make a lot of noise. So for the time being, we're safe. We might get some more life-saving technology imposed (like the neck brace), but that's probably a good thing.

Thierry Sabine Foundation Maternity school
Thierry Sabine Foundation Hospital
But there is a large group of people who don't like the Dakar because of the environment. The ecology movement is getting stronger and more vocal about the race. Of course, as usual, most of these people aren't knowledgeable about the race and its socio/economical and environmental impact. They hear the word "race", and immediately the knee goes up and they start shouting! They think it's just a motorcycle/ car/ truck race that crosses through Africa (now South America), taking advantage of a third world country. They have no idea what social and economical impact the race has in the areas where the race is held.

ASO Open link in a new window, the Dakar organizers always pump money into local communities. Schools, hospitals, buildings, roads, etc are built with money donated by ASO.

When you travel through Africa, along the Dakar routes, you will find many villages with schools or hospitals named "Thierry Sabine" (the creator of this legendary race, who passed away in a helicopter accident).

People locally love the Dakar. Don't take my word for it, ask anyone there.

Now, the Dakar is trying to put money into the environment as well. Every contestant needs to pay a fee for the environment, a sort of eco-tax. Motorcycles and quads pay €50, cars pay €100 and trucks pay €150. The total, €45,000, is donated to a local organizations involved in the struggle to make our planet greener.

Stopping the Dakar race, would mean many people would suffer, and there would be less money to spend on saving the planet.

So please stop snipping at the Dakar. The Dakar is good for everyone involved.

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