Rally of Finland axed over virus uncertainty

The Rally of Finland scheduled for 6-9 August has been called off due to continuing health and safety risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said on Wednesday.

The event becomes the third leg of the World Rally Championship to be cancelled as a result of the global health crisis. The Rally of Portugal and Safari Rally in Kenya had already been wiped from this season's schedule.

"Although the situation in Finland and internationally has improved, there are too many ongoing factors regarding health and safety risks to organise the event given that it is only two months away," organisers AKK Sports said in a statement.

"Together with the unknown progress of Covid-19, there are other major uncertainties affecting this decision," it added.

"For example, the lack of information on whether current restrictions imposed by the state on public events will continue after July, and how foreign participants, teams and spectators will be able to safely travel to Finland."

Plans to postpone the rally until later in the year were considered but organisers opted to cancel the event due to lingering doubts over the health situation.

"By cancelling the event this year, we want to show responsibility towards each and every one of the stakeholders as well as the whole society. Health and well-being are always a priority," said rally promoter Jani Backman.

The WRC season has been hit hard by the virus, with stops in Argentina and Italy postponed and awaiting a new date. Three rounds, in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico, were raced, although the Swedish rally was curtailed by a lack of snow.

The next scheduled rally is in New Zealand from 3-6 September.

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