WRC Rally Japan cancelled for second consecutive year

The World Rally Championship's visit to Japan has been cancelled for the second year in succession due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan was set to host the championship season finale from 11-14 November but the event had been under pressure due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

WRC organisers had hoped that the successful running of the Olympics in Tokyo would pave the way for the event to go ahead.

However, after Formula 1's decision last month to cancel its Japanese Grand Prix, it seemed increasingly likely that Rally Japan would also be canned, with confirmation coming from event organisers FORUM8 today.

"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 Rally Japan 2021 executive committee read.

"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."

WRC is expected to confirm a new event for its final round which is thought to be Rally Monza.

Monza hosted the championship's final round last year after COVID-19 forced organisers into a radical calendar reshuffle.

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