The French government is considering canceling the Dakar rally because prosecutors are investigating an explosion in Saudi Arabia that targeted a car and badly injured its French driver, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday. “We thought it might be best to skip this sporting event … the question remains open,” Le Dryen told BFM television, “there was a possible terrorist attack against Dakar.”
French prosecutors said Tuesday they had launched a terrorist investigation into a December 30 bombing in Jeddah that left 61-year-old driver Philippe Boutron in need of surgery for serious leg injuries before returning to France.
Boutron’s son said Thursday that his father had emerged from a coma, although both legs were “badly injured.”
Saudi authorities and race organizers have indicated there are no criminal suspicions about the blast, but France has warned its citizens in Saudi Arabia to use “maximum vigilance – security risk” in the wake of the blast.
“The possibility of a criminal act has not been ruled out,” the ministry said in a guide updated on its website.
The famous race, formerly known as Paris-Dakar, but now only as The Dakar, followed the route from the French capital to Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
But security threats on its way to North Africa mean it has been held in South America since 2009 and in Saudi Arabia since 2020.
The final phase of this year’s edition – known as Dakar 2022 – is set to take place on January 14.