Japan’s return to the World Rally Championship calendar will have to wait at least another year after confirmation that the 2021 event won’t go ahead.
Japan had been due to make its WRC return for the first time since 2010 and had been scheduled for November 14 to close the season, but WRC is now seeking an alternative venue to fill its now vacant slot.
“Considering the characteristics of the WRC competition, which is held on public roads with the imperative co-operation of all in the local community, and the fact that in Japan the Covid-19 emergency cases continue to increase daily and alleviation of the situation remains unpredictable, together we were left with only one choice which was to, unfortunately, call off the 2021 WRC Rally Japan,” a statement from the organisers said.
“We take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation for the indispensable support and understanding of all, and would like to direct our sincere gratitude to all the fans and stakeholders who have been looking forward to this first WRC Rally Japan, after 11 years.
“We sincerely apologise for all the inconveniences this resolution may have caused, and are deeply grateful for your understanding.”
Executive committee chairman Satoshi Suzuki added: “I take this opportunity to also express my heartfelt gratitude to all who worked so tirelessly in order to make this event possible.
“We are determined to do our best in order to overcome this Covid-19 pandemic and successfully be able to hold the WRC in Japan in 2022. I pray for the safety of all.”
Japan has seen rising Covid cases after it went ahead with hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games, which were delayed by a year.
Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix was also cancelled for the second year running owing to the pandemic.