This year's edition of the 1000km Toyota Desert Race (TDR) popularly known as Mantshwabisi, has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has said.
The decision was taken after a digital meeting between the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) and the BTO this week. Mantshwabisi was scheduled for June 26 to 28, 2020 in Selebi-Phikwe.
"First and foremost our priority is the health and safety of fans, teams and organisations, as well as the wider society. We apologise to those fans affected by the cancellation of the TDR1000 as well as the postponement of the other races to date. This decision has been taken in rapidly changing and evolving circumstances, but we believe it is the right and necessary one," SACCS chief executive officer, Archie Rutherford said in a press statement. BTO chief executive officer, Myra Sekgororoane said due to seasonal changes, the popular event
"Due to the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, the avenue of postponement for this iconic event to take place in Botswana later in the year is not possible in view of the planned events and the seasonal conditions,” she said. Mantshwabisi draws the biggest spectatorship for a local sporting event, attracting over 100,000 spectators.
The TDR1000 holds round three and four of the SACCS and Botswana Motorsport (BMS) championships and competitors favour it as they earn double points in the event. This is the first time in 30 years that the event would not be held. It remains the toughest and longest off-road race in the southern African region.