Peru bows out of 2016 Dakar Rally due to 'El Nino'

Updated: 2015-08-25 09:02


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LIMA -- Peru Monday announced it is withdrawing as host of the 2016 Dakar Rally "due to concerns about the El Nino weather phenomenon," state news agency Andina reported.

Peru's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism issued a statement saying the government was cancelling its participation in both the 2015 Desafio Inca (or Dakar Challenge), scheduled for September, and next year's rally.

"Due to the impact the El Nino phenomenon may have in different parts of the country, and as a precaution of its possible effects on the population, we have decided to cancel our participation in the automotive events," the ministry said.

According to the country's specialized El Nino commission (ENFEN), "a powerful weather event" is expected around the same time as next year's rally was set to kick off in Peru's capital Lima on Jan. 3, before racing on to Bolivia and Argentina.

"El Nino" can lead to heavy rains and flooding, and the fear is Peru's coastal region may see a repeat of the torrential downpours that caused more than $3 billion in damages in 1997-98.

Peru's Economy Ministry has earmarked some 150 million soles (about $65 million ) to head off potential damage.

In April, before the forecasts were made, Peru's minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Magali Silva, celebrated the race's return to the Andean country, saying it will bring several "benefits for the price of one," including higher tourism revenues and greater world exposure.