Major jumping, eventing contests latest to fall victim to Covid-19

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Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Silver Shine competing in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final Barcelona 2019.
Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Silver Shine competing in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final Barcelona 2019. © FEI/ Lukasz Kowalski

The latest equestrian casualties amid the Covid-19 pandemic are the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2020 in Barcelona, Spain, which was to have taken place from October 2 to 4, and the USEA American Eventing Championships, scheduled for August 25 to 30.

The cancellation of the Nations Cup Final announced today was a joint-decision by the FEI, the Spanish National Federation (Real Federación Hípica Española) and the Foundation and Board of the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona (RCPB), longtime host of the final.

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup trophy.
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup trophy. © FEI/ Lukasz Kowalski

FEI President Ingmar De Vos said every scenario was considered, including running the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final behind closed doors without spectators.

“But the combination of the situation in Catalonia and the ongoing international travel restrictions has meant that we have unfortunately been forced to jointly agree that regrettably this year’s Final cannot go ahead in Barcelona, the risks are simply too great,” De Vos said.

He said that when changes were announced to the rules for the Final back in April, stakeholders were “cautiously optimistic” that even if the series fell victim to the pandemic, the final would be able to be saved.

“Sadly that has proved impossible.

“Of course this is devastating news for everyone involved, not least the athletes that were hoping to compete at the Final, to our hosts in Barcelona and of course to our Top Partner Longines, but health and safety have to be our top priorities. While we are all very disappointed now, we very much look forward to returning to Barcelona for the Final in 2021.

RCPB Foundation President Emilio Zegrí said efforts would be redoubled to make the 2021 final an outstanding event.

The European Equestrian Federation (EEF) announced in April that, due to the global pandemic, the launch of the Longines EEF Series had been postponed to 2021. As a result, there will be no promotion and relegation this year, meaning that Division 1 will start with the same 10 teams for the 2021 season — Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden.

American Eventing Championships

On August 5 the United States Eventing Association (USEA) and Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) made the decision to cancel the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships, citing the health and safety concerns of holding a national competition during the Covid-19 pandemic.

USEA CEO Rob Burk said cancelling the event was devastating, but with riders coming from 41 states the geographic pull of the event and the implications of that could not be ignored.

“The immense amount of uncertainty caused by recent cancellations of similar-sized events at the Kentucky Horse Park weighed heavily on the USEA leadership,” Burk said.

He said organisers were unable to guarantee that regional governments or other authorities would not cancel the event if it had gone ahead.

“By canceling before the closing date for entries we are hopeful that riders can reroute to their local events which desperately need their support and are working incredibly hard to hold safe events. Over the next month, the USEA Board of Governors will look into the qualifications for the 2021 AEC to see what can be done for those that worked so hard to qualify in 2020.”

USEA President Max Corcoran said the loss of the championships will be a financial hit for both the USEA and EEI, “but in the end, it is the right decision ethically for the staff, volunteers, officials, and competitors”.

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