2020 Wales Rally GB cancelled over Covid uncertainty

Rally

Uncertainties over Covid-19 restrictions force organisers of 2020 Wales Rally GB to cancel the event for this year

Elfyn Evans at Wales Rally GB 2019

Wales Rally GB/at-world.com

This year’s Wales Rally GB has been cancelled due to the uncertainty of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

It’s the first time that the British rally has been cancelled in more than 50 years, but organisers said that it was impossible to plan an event that usually attracts 100,000 spectators, when there remain “too many unknown factors”.

The event had been due to run from October 29 to November 1 but joins several other cancellations on this year’s World Rally Championship calendar, including Kenya’s Safari Rally, which had been due to return next month, along with rounds in New Zealand, Finland and Portugal.

“We have to accept, with an incredibly heavy heart, that cancelling this year’s event is the only responsible and prudent option.”

“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but, in close consultation with our chief funding partner the Welsh Government, it is sadly one we are obliged to make in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic,” said David Richards, Chairman of Motorsport UK, governing body of UK motor sport and organiser of Wales Rally GB.

“While significant progress is being made to combat the virus, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding mass gatherings, social distancing and travel restrictions, plus the possibility of a resurgence of viral transmission later in the year.

“We have been closely monitoring the guidance issued by Government and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is impossible to make plans with any certainty for such major events in the autumn. We therefore have to accept, with an incredibly heavy heart, that cancelling this year’s event is the only responsible and prudent option. We will instead start focusing our attentions on creating an even bigger and better world-class showcase for 2021.”

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Welsh Covid-19 restrictions are currently more stringent than those in England. Visitors and residents must stay local to their house, which generally means within five miles, and prevents tourism.

Along with the WRC round, the Rally was due to be the final event in this season’s British Rally Championship. Organisers of the national series have now said that the season will no longer run, making February’s Cambrian Rally the only round of 2020

In a statement, Wales Rally GB organisers said that not enough was known about continuing restrictions on large-scale gatherings or international travel to commit to hosting the event.

“There are too many unknown factors to make the organisation of such a sizeable sporting fixture a realistic, or sensible, option in these uncertain times,” it said. “As a result, Wales Rally GB joins the escalating number of sporting events to have been cancelled, along with many highlights on the 2020 Welsh calendar.”

The rally was last cancelled in 1967 due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak and has been a permanent fixture in the annual World Rally Championship since the series’ inauguration in 1973.

“In recent years, the huge appeal of the latest generation of World Rally Cars plus the presence of local star Elfyn Evans – a winner in 2017 – have drawn record crowds to the wonderful Welsh forests, but this is not the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities,” said Richards.