The FEI President has welcomed the announcement of the new dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will run from 23 July to 8 August, and for the Paralympic Games from 24 August until 5 September 2021.
“While it was of course demoralising for everyone that the Games had to be postponed from their original dates in 2020, the decision was absolutely right in the current terrible global pandemic, but it is really good to have the new dates agreed so soon”, Ingmar De Vos said.
“The decision was taken in full consultation with all the International Federations, including the FEI, and we all had the opportunity to voice our opinions. Now, once the Covid-19 crisis is over, our athletes across both Games can get their training back on track with confidence, knowing exactly when they and their horse need to be at their peak.
“We are conscious of the fact that this has been a very complex decision for the IOC to make, with multiple factors to be taken into consideration. The athletes’ health and well-being across both Games not just for equestrian sport, has to be the top priority, and we have all the protocols in place to protect our athletes – both human and equine – and help them to optimise their performance in the challenging climate we can expect in Tokyo.
“Of course there will be an impact on the international Calendar across all sports, and from an FEI perspective this includes four major European Championships, but we are already looking at ways we can minimise that impact. The remit for our discipline-specific task forces that are evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on the 2020 Calendar has now been expanded to cover 2021 and now we have confirmed dates for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we need to explore possible alternatives for a number of major FEI Events, notably the European Championships in Jumping, Dressage and Para Dressage, in Budapest, and the European Eventing Championships in Haras du Pin, France. This process will be started immediately.”
The five-discipline European Championships in Budapest (HUN), which also include Driving and Vaulting, are currently due to run from 23-30 August 2021, and the Eventing Championships in Haras du Pin (FRA) from 11-15 August.
“We need to also look at deadlines for obtaining minimum eligibility requirements and extending the deadline for registration of ownership for Olympic horses and will announce those as soon as possible, but we have had confirmation from both the IOC and IPC that National Olympic and Paralympic Committees which have been allocated Olympic or Paralympic quota places will retain them despite the postponement of the Games to next year.”
Following a meeting of the IOC executive board today, the Tokyo Olympic Games will now start on 23 July, 2021 and will run to 8 August after it was postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Paralympic Games will now take place from 24 August until 5 September, 2021. The IOC also decided that the Olympics will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021.
IOC president Thomas Bach was quoted by the BBC: “I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.
“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons added: “When the Paralympic Games do take place in Tokyo next year, they will be an extra-special display of humanity uniting as one, a global celebration of human resilience and a sensational showcase of sport.
“With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games 512 days away, the priority for all those involved in the Paralympic movement must be to focus on staying safe with their friends and family during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
The decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was taken to support the containment of the Covid-19 virus to protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved.
One of the reasons for the delay is to allow time to finish the qualification process when current restrictions will have been lifted. All athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned will remain unchanged.
Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori was quoted by the BBC:
“A certain amount of time is required for the selection and qualification of athletes and for their training and preparation, and the consensus was that staging the rescheduled Games during the summer vacation in Japan would be preferable,” Mori said.
“In terms of transport, arranging volunteers and the provision of tickets for those in Japan and overseas, as well as allowing for the Covid-19 situation, we think that it would be better to reschedule the Games to one year later than planned, in the summer of 2021.”
The Animal Health Trust stated on their website today that they are devastated to announce that following a period of dire financial constraints, and now with the economic implications of Covid-19 having a direct effect on funding, the charity is facing imminent closure.
The Animal Health Trust has been in existence for more than 75 years and makes a significant difference to the health and welfare of animals. Their role during last year’s outbreak of equine flu has been particularly important, from testing to providing important updates and advice to the equestrian community.
Much of their work is unique, and will cease, putting thousands of animals at risk from disease and injury.
The Trustees and Executive Committee continue to seek emergency funding, including the potential use of recently announced Government Schemes, in order to save the unparalleled knowledge and expertise the organisation houses, but without an urgent input of significant funds the charity is likely to close at the end of this month.
The AHT state that they are working with our 257 members of staff to support them through this difficult time.
In a joint statement today, British Dressage (BD) and British Showjumping (BS) reacted to yesterday’s UK Government advice on the risks to public health presented by the coronavirus and have taken a number of decisions around sporting and training activities for the next four week period, up to and including 16 April.
These have been informed by the strong recommendations around social distancing, non-essential travel and public gatherings, taking into account the severity of the current situation and their responsibilities as National Governing Bodies to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all of our sport’s participants, as well as the wider implications for society as a whole:
“The challenges faced by our community, regions and venues are unprecedented, so we have made these decisions in the interest of public health and to reduce any burden on our health and emergency services. We also have a duty of care to all of our stakeholders, whether riders, trainers, owners, officials, organisers or supporters, as well as a societal responsibility towards the containment and control of the coronavirus.”
Both BD and BS hope that their actions go some way to removing the current uncertainty and enable their stakeholders to prioritise their personal health and well-being at this difficult time. BD and BS state that they will be continuing to monitor the situation closely and will aim to issue regular updates in line with UK Government, Public Health England and NHS advice.
• All national activities will cease with immediate effect, with all regional activities to support competition, training, coaching and exams that are currently scheduled permitted to continue until close of business on Thursday 19 March.
• This will include the cancellation of the following major events across our two disciplines:
– British Showjumping Spring Championships at Addington, 26 – 29 March (BS)
– British Dressage Young Horse Forum at Myerscough, 27 March (BD)
– Blue Chip Winter Championships at Hartpury, 1 – 5 April (BS)
– NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships incorporating the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury College, 8 – 12 April (BD)
– Pony of the Year Show at Arena UK, 9 – 13 April (BS)
– National Judges Convention at Addington, 14 April (BD)
BD and BS are working with organisers around the policy and procedures for issuing refunds for the above events, and endeavour to communicate more details and timeframes as soon as possible.
In both disciplines, staff, Directors, technical committees and relevant parties will be reviewing the impact on the sporting calendar as a result of these cancellations and any subsequent qualifications and selection. This will dependent on when dressage and showjumping is able to restart and plans will inevitably remain fluid until then.
BD and BS state they recognise that it is difficult for members to plan ahead for training, competition and qualification at this stage, but will work hard to ensure that both organisations are in a strong position as and when the sports can resume.
The Meriden headquarters for BD and BS will remain operational with skeleton staffing arrangements, while the majority of employees will be required to work from home from Monday 23 March onwards. Both organisations will continue to support members and stakeholders throughout and contact can be made as normal via phone or email.
British Dressage Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented:
“This is an exceptionally difficult decision, but the safety and wellbeing of all participants has to be our paramount consideration. As a society we must collectively work together to limit the spread of the virus – and based on the latest government and public health advice this has now become a matter of urgency. Thank you to all of our members, coaches, officials, organisers and volunteers for your support and understanding – by acting swiftly and responsibly to contain this virus we hope that our sport can resume again soon.”
British Showjumping Chief Executive Iain Graham said:
“We trust everyone concerned understands that we all have a part to play in this global pandemic. Containing the virus and contributing to minimising the spread alongside not adding to an already stretched health and emergency services in tandem with doing the best to ensure safety of our community is the priority for us all at present. I would like to thank all of our members, officials and stakeholders in advance for their cooperation during these uncertain times. As we share a number of venues and our sports are similar in nature, we will continue to work with BD and constantly review the situation.”
BS and BD share a number of venues, as the two sports are similar in nature, so both organisations will continue to work together to review the situation and take action when required.
While suspending national sporting and training activity will inevitably impact on most participants, the elite athletes campaigning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will continue to train and prepare as normal. British Dressage and British Showjumping will, in conjunction with the British Equestrian Federation and the National Lottery funded UK Sport World Class Performance Programme, continue to support them in any way possible towards their selection goals.
Both organisations will keep stakeholders updated through all channels of communication as the situation is constantly evolving and changing. Both BD and BS are currently in the process of compiling an FAQ document, which will be published on their websites to help members with any immediate concerns or questions they may have.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold, the British Olympic disciplines are beginning to react to concerns about public health.
The swiftest action came from British Eventing who have today announced that in response to government statements concerning the coronavirus, all their events are cancelled with immediate effect.
In response to the government advice to minimise social contact and non-essential travel, and the restrictions on the support of the emergency services British Eventing declared their intention to act responsibly and take all action necessary not to further burden the NHS or risk members’ safety at events:
“We thank all of our members, organisers, officials, volunteers and staff for their support during these unprecedented times. We will continue to monitor the situation and will resume sporting activity as soon as we are able.”
For those events that have passed ballot date, members will have their entries refunded under the abandonment insurance and those pre-ballot will be refunded in full.
British Showjumping have not yet made a statement about scheduled shows. They have announced that the North West Yorkshire (Area 15) AGM, which was due to be held on Tuesday 17th March at Thief Hall, Thornton -Le – Moor, Northallerton has been postponed. The AGM will be re-scheduled for a date later in the year.
British Dressage has so far not announced any cancellations but state that they “will be reviewing the immediate impact on our activities, competitions and events as an urgent priority.”
“The senior management team has been working on contingency plans based on different scenarios over the past week and these will be presented to BD Board Directors tomorrow. An emergency Board Meeting has already been scheduled to discuss the wide-ranging implications for the sport in more detail and a formal announcement on our plans will be made on Wednesday morning.”