Lebanon will go into a full lockdown this weekend. In light of the news, the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon (ATCL) announced that the country’s annual tarmac rally event had been canceled.
The ATCL, which organizes the rally every year, said in a statement that the decision to cancel it was based on the recent Supreme Defense Council’s decision to close the country until the 30th of November.
“…The club decided to cancel the Lebanon International Rally, which would have been held under the patronage of His Excellency the President of the Republic, in compliance with the official decision, with the hope that the coronavirus pandemic will disappear and that the normal course of events will return in the near future.”
The rally, originally called “Rally Montagne,” is a long-running racing event that dates back to 1968.
It has been repeatedly featured in the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), in which it is the only tarmac rally. The MERC involves Arab Gulf nations and other countries in Western Asia.
Over the years, Lebanese drivers have scored a total of 25 rally wins in the championship, with 47-year-old Roger Feghali holding a record number of wins (14) in Rally of Lebanon.
Lebanon’s rally event has been canceled more than a dozen times since 1968, for reasons mostly related to security, such as the eruption of the civil war in 1975.
It was having a clean, uninterrupted run from 2006 until the COVID-19 situation forced its organizers to cancel it this year.