HAVING LAMBASTED the Paris-Dakar Rally, which once again caused several deaths both among spectators and participants as a sport last year, I cannot really applaud the award of the race’s start to Lisbon.
Portugal’s most successful sports promoter outside football, João Lagos, has landed the ‘big fish’, which will see cars and motorbikes heading south across the Tejo on December 31, beating off rival bids from Barcelona and Rome in the process. Securing the opening stage has cost four million euros, 70 per cent of which has been underwritten by the government and Lisbon Câmara.
Once more, the hankering after prestige has overtaken common sense, as I cannot see what possible advantage the staging of this event can bring to the country. The dirt tracks used will not be improved and, at best, some trees and wildlife will bear the consequences of this foolhardy venture. At least the potential death toll is likely to cause fewer raised eyebrows than usual, considering the prevalent mayhem on Portuguese roads over the New Year holiday period.