Just over $US1 million was spent by the FEI on the endurance track at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, delegates to the FEI General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain were told on Monday during a meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the cancelled event.
Findings by the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU) on the issues surrounding the Endurance championships at the Games, were presented at the General Assembly, focusing on the sequence of events that took place from about 12 hours before the start of 160km competition that ultimately led to the false start on September 12. Some competitors were misdirected and officials opted to change the ride to a 120km event, before deteriorating weather forced the event’s cancellation.
Andrew Smith from the ECIU detailed the underlying reasons that affected preparations for the endurance event, with the report’s findings based on information provided during interviews with several people, including key people within the Organising Committee, the FEI and other witnesses.
The conclusions of the report show that there was no single reason that caused the false start but multiple issues: Most importantly lack of communication between Officials – particularly the lack of radios – and also between the Organising Committee, National Federations and Athletes, delays to the preparation of the Vet Gate and the Endurance trail, and the decision to maintain a full schedule of events at Tryon International Equestrian Center that stretched an already under-resourced team required to deliver both these events and the Games.
The ECIU has also provided a second report to the FEI regarding allegations of misconduct. This will be reviewed by the FEI Legal team to assess whether further disciplinary proceedings will be brought before the FEI Tribunal. The final decisions on any such proceedings will be published by the FEI.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez then presented the overall conclusions, acknowledging that there were multiple factors that contributed, not just to the issues surrounding Endurance but which also impacted the overall delivery of the Games. The management structure of the Organising Committee, other construction projects and resources that were given priority over delivery of fields of play and other Games-related infrastructures, and communication of vital information in a timely manner were major contributory factors, she said.
However, “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 said the FEI invested close to 1 million Swiss francs on the endurance track alone, over and above other financial support provided by the FEI to the Organising Committee to ensure the Games happened. In-keeping with good financial oversight, the FEI had made financial provisions specifically to cover emergency situations specifically related to the Games.
The question of reimbursements to National Federations that sent endurance athletes and horses to the Games was also brought up during the session.