Otago Rally postponed due to Coronvirus concerns
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Otago Rally organisers announced last night the 2020 event planned for the weekend of April 3-5 has been postponed indefinitely due to the spread of COVID-19.
The rally, which was to be the opening round of the New Zealand Rally Championship and the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship will be run at a later date this year, if that proves feasible.
Some planning had been done in the last week to ascertain if the event could have been run safely and to a high standard by adopting measures that minimised crowd sizes and avoided public gatherings.
However, the organisers have been tracking the escalation of COVID-19 and since last weekend it has become clear that it would be neither practical nor socially responsible to stage the event.
Calling off the event now minimises further impact to competitors, before they commit to travelling to Dunedin.
"It is well understood that competitors will have put their heart and soul into preparing for the Otago Rally and the 2020 championship,’’ organisers said in the postponement statement.
"Despite this, many competitors have indicated that they need to withdraw, as family, work and business are now an immediate priority. All competitors will have their entry free refunded in full."
"The Rally wishes to state their appreciation of the support shown by their funders, sponsors, volunteers and competitors. Their messages have confirmed how strong the Dunedin and motorsport communities are.
"Thousands of hours have been invested in the 2020 event, fortunately it is likely that a significant amount of this planning can be reused in the next event.
"A major regret is the loss of the economic benefits to Dunedin, 7000 bed nights and a direct spend of $1.8M. Providing such benefits to the City has always been a strong motivation for the organisers.
"Supporters, the community and competitors are reassured that there is no risk to the capability in running future events and the organisers look forward to making this a reality at the first opportunity."
The rally receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.
The scheduled second round of both the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the New Zealand Championship is the International Rally of Whangarei planned for May 9-10.