Sos Covid in the Dakar: De Villiers at risk, the Government issues lists of positives to hotels

The South African is positive before leaving, but in Saudi Arabia it is an emergency to avoid contagion. Swabs required at the Jeddah stadium, names and passport numbers of positives are immediately reported to hotels and organizations to avoid “escapes”

“Good luck”. Good luck. To say it is a tall Arab, with the classic dishdasha, the white tunic down to the feet, and the kefiah on the head, the traditional hat, but it is not at the foot of the starting podium of the Dakar 2022, or at the start of the special stage. He is the one who manages the entrances to the Covid test of the Jeddah stadium, the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, the most popular place in these days before the start of the most famous rally in the world. He repeats “Good luck” to all who enter, because in fact this is what we are talking about at the bivouac of the race this year we no longer speak of the traditional 2,500 people, but of 4,000 given the advent of the Dakar Classic and the opening by Aso, the organizing company of the competition, and by the Saudi government to families and tourism within the Dakar.

dakar, mandatory tests

Every person who participates in the rally, whatever his role, must undergo a covid pcr test, the nasopharyngeal to understand us and not the quick swab, before arriving in Saudi Arabia and again, on the spot, inside the stadium, 24 hours after his arrival in Saudi land. Without the negativity certified by the test it will not be possible to start the race and to prove everything there is an app with an unpronounceable name, Tawakkalna, which is colored green if all goes well, purple if something is wrong or red if yes it is positive. And so in this 44th edition to scare the crews are not so much the dunes – which, however, will not be present in massive doses this year – and not even a lot of sand, one of the prerogatives of the race in this country, but the anti-Covid test that it is mowing down the competitors.

excluded pilots

More and more teams are finding themselves without drivers at the start: the first important name was that of Giniel De Villiers, one of the top drivers of the Gazoo Toyota Overdrive South Africa team, who had a positive result before leaving; in his place the team had called the British Chris Meeke but in the meantime the South African winner of the Dakar in 2009 after test after test finally had a negative response. The problem is that from South Africa the entrances to Saudi Arabia are totally closed and you can only enter with a special permit issued by the Government to be able to participate in the tender, in agreement with the Aso. So the scheduled flights do not take off, they are blocked towards Arabia and De Villiers will have to pass through other countries in order to have access, in time, to the competition venue. Even Erik Van Loon, Dutch, also of the Toyota Overdrive team, tested positive before leaving the country and so here he skipped the race and his compatriot Erik Van Brinke was called in his emergency place. Another twist in the Tatra Buggyra team, one of the strongest teams in the truck category: Teo Calvet, son of driver Fabien Calvet, who had to leave for his first experience in a rally raid, in France, before getting on the plane that would have brought him to Jeddah, it was positive and so the dream of his whole life is skipped, even if given his very young age, 21, he will still have the opportunity to recover from the strong disappointment in the future. However, he leaves behind his teammate, the Chilean Ignacio Casale, who finds himself the only Tatra of the team in the race, without quick assistance. Also excluded are the two Italians Eugenio Amos, of Can Am South Racing in category T4, blocked in Italy, and Paolo Ceci, positive in the last test in Arabia.

bye bye privacy

Mechanics, engineers, pilots and co-pilots: Covid affects everyone. The list is long and it is also public, in defiance of the principles of confidentiality on sensitive data. All hotels in Jeddah receive a list of names in the late afternoon of each day, complete with a passport number that indicates positive people. If they are still in the bivouac, a phone call to the team manager of the team to which they belong immediately requests their evacuation, while if they are in the hotel they are directly checked and locked in their rooms. Absolute ban on going out and having contact with others. Today Aso announced that those who are currently positive will be able to take a second test on December 30th and if they prove negative after another test on the morning of 31st they will be allowed to rejoin the group. In the case of a second positive result, they will have no chance of leaving and will remain in the room for ten days.

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Sos Covid in the Dakar: De Villiers at risk, the Government issues lists of positives to hotels

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