In 2009, for the first time, the Dakar Rally was held outside Africa because of safety and security concerns - particularly the threat of terrorism in the country of Mauritania. Instead, organizers moved the event to Argentina and Chile, where this was not an issue. On New Year's Day, the 2010 South American event began in Buenos Aires, after the participating vehicles were on display near Palermo’s Sociedad Rural (as pictured here) for several days.
Safety and security, of course, are relative terms when it comes to fossil fuel “sports” such as off-road automobile and motorcycle racing. It’s certainly not secure for the plants and animals destroyed or killed by speeding vehicles as they tear up the desert and the Andean altiplano (the Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama specifically requested Dakar to keep away from its natural and archaeological resources). And it’s not secure for humans either - last year, the rally claimed three lives and, this year, Dakar 2010 needed only one day to take its first life, a spectator in Córdoba province. Five other spectators were injured.
In what other “sport” is grisly death a predictable outcome of the competition? Even leaving aside the question of whether we should encourage extravagant recreational consumption of fossil fuels, which are a limited and declining resource, Argentina and Chile should rethink their support of Dakar. Or at least, perhaps, we should acknowledge that this is a blood sport.