The 2008 edition of the Dakar rally which was supposed to start in Lisbon on Saturday was canceled, competition organizers announced on Friday, invoking security reasons. It is for the first time in its existence that the competition is canceled.

French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner previously warned organizers that their route through Mauritania scheduled for January 11 and 19 was extremely dangerous since recently four French tourists lost their lives in a suicide bombing claimed by al-Qaeda.

Rally organizers discussed the possibility to postpone the competition on Friday morning. Some of the participants challenged the decision, arguing that the organizers should have set up a secondary route as a back up.