Pandemic forces eight-month delay in staging World Endurance Champs

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The Covid-19 pandemic has ended prospects of staging the Endurance World Championships in Italy this September, with the event now postponed until May next year.

The postponement of the Longines-sponsored event, set to be held at San Rossore, Pisa, was agreed between the FEI, the Italian National Federation and event organisers.

The restrictions on both travel and training of horses meant that it was simply not possible to maintain the original date, the FEI says.

The FEI Executive Board and the Endurance Temporary Committee were in favour of postponement and, after consultation with the Endurance Calendar Task Force and meetings with Italian officials, the move to May 2021 was agreed.

Final approval of the postponement was given by the FEI Board on June 19.

Qualification for the championships will be under Article 836 of the FEI Endurance Rules (11th Edition), which come into effect on July 1 this year.

The FEI Board also agreed to prolong the qualification period for these championships to allow more time for horses and athletes to qualify after the disruption to this year’s FEI Calendar caused by the pandemic.

Details will be defined by the Endurance Temporary Committee and FEI Headquarters and communicated later.

Two continental championships are already scheduled to run next year – the FEI Endurance Pan American Championships for Seniors and Young Riders in Campinas, Brazil, from July 28-29, and the FEI Endurance European Championships in Ermelo, the Netherlands, from September 6-11.

The FEI last week reached out to all 51 national federations that compete in Endurance in order to understand their views on the proposed postponement of the world championships and its potential impact on next year’s calendar.

They were asked whether they were in favour of postponing the event to May 2021, and if they would also participate in their region’s continental championships if the world championships were moved to next year.

A total of 34 federations responded to the questionnaire, of which 33 were positive, both on the postponement and their participation, where relevant, in one of the continental championships next year.

“Our Endurance community made it very clear to the FEI that they want a world championships, particularly after losing the last edition at Tryon in 2018, but horse welfare and a level playing field could not have been guaranteed if the championships had run in September, so it was the best solution to move the Championships to May of next year,” FEI secretary-general Sabrina Ibáñez said.

“Having consulted with the national federations that compete in Endurance, we now feel that we have reached a compromise that works for everyone, but especially for our horses, as there will now be time for them to do the necessary preparation work and achieve their qualification for this major event.”

The secretary-general is in charge of the FEI Calendar and, throughout the Covid-19 crisis, has chaired the eight discipline-specific Calendar Task Forces that have been working to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the sport and the fixture list.

More than 800 events have already been cancelled and many events have been rescheduled.

The FEI Endurance World Championships for Young Horses and the FEI Endurance European Championships for Young Riders and Juniors, due to be held in Vic, Spain, from September 25-27, will be discussed by the FEI Board during this week’s three-day meeting via videoconference this week.

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