Changes to the approach to FEI world championship events “does not necessarily mean the end of the FEI World Equestrian Games”, the organisation’s secretary-general says.
Speaking at the FEI General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, at a session on 2018 World Equestrian Games and the future of the WEG concept, Sabrina Ibáñez said: “to be completely honest we, as a community, were fortunate that Tryon were courageous and willing to take on the enormous challenge to host the Games only 22 months prior to the event. Without them we would have had no WEG 2018.”
Ibáñez also acknowledged that, despite the FEI’s commitment to support the Organising Committee, in particular during the latter stages of event preparations, the FEI had no realistic mechanism to push the Organising Committee to deliver on its promises other than threatening to cancel the Games, which was not an option due to the time and resources that National Federations and athletes had invested in preparing for the Games.
Lack of venue readiness and an under-resourced Organising Committee, both from a financial and personnel perspective, were major negatives that ultimately impacted the delivery of the Games.
Before opening up the meeting to questions from the floor, Ibáñez talked through the plan to open up the bidding process for individual world championships in all disciplines for 2022, but with preference being given to multi-discipline bids.
“This does not necessarily mean the end of the FEI World Equestrian Games and bids to host all-discipline Games will still be considered.”
Questions and comments during the 90-minute session from National Federation delegates from France, Chile, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Uruguay, Italy and Bahrain focused on weather and the suitability of Tryon for the Games, reimbursements to National Federations that sent endurance athletes and horses to the Games, lack of communication, officials, and lack of accountability.
Ibáñez highlighted the tireless teamwork of all concerned over the 12-day Games: “the Organising Committee, the volunteers, Officials and FEI staff and the National Federations who, despite the frustrations, continued to work positively with both the Organising Committee and FEI to find solutions and provide the best possible environment for their athletes, horses and team staff.”
FEI Director Games Operations Tim Hadaway presented a report on the planning and delivery of the Tryon 2018 Games, highlighting both the positive and negative aspects of four key areas: Sport, Games operations, commercial, communications and media operations.
The FEI said top sport (with the exception of Endurance) was the key success of the Games, along with major broadcast coverage on NBC in the US market, including 57 hours of live coverage that resulted in a record audience for equestrian sport.