March 19, 2020
Due to the spread of COVID-19 the Otago Rally, one of New Zealand’s major motorsports events, will not be held on the planned date of April 3-5, 2020.
It is unknown whether an alternative date later in 2020 is feasible. If this proves not to be the case, then the event will definitely be held in 2021.
Until recently it was felt that the event could have been run safely and to a high standard by adopting measures that minimised crowd sizes and avoided public gatherings.
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. Further, they feel that there is a high likelihood of further restrictions on travel and crowd sizes.
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. 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 event receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.