COVID-19 has put paid to hopes of the Endurance World Championships being scheduled this year with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) moving to announce the showpiece distance riding competition has been postponed to May 2021. The event was scheduled to be hosted at San Rossore in Pisa from 3-6 September but the coronavirus pandemic has forced a major reschedule due to the massive logistics involved of hosting participating national teams comprising trainers, riders and horses from around the globe. The FEI declared it was ‘simply not possible to maintain the original date’ owing to the pandemic and the restrictions on both travel and training of horses.
The event will now be hosted at the same venue next year and the decision to postpone it has received a unanimous welcome from equestrian federations worldwide. The FEI asked all its 51 member nations for their opinion on the matter and whether they would participate in their own continental championships if the World Championships were moved to 2021. A total of 34 national federations responded to the questionnaire sent out by the FEI, with 33 responding positively to both the postponement and their participation at a continental level next year. Organisational glitches on behalf of local organisers forced the FEI to call off the last World Championships at Tyron in the United States in 2018.
FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez said: “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 been run in September, so it was the best solution to move the Championships to May of next year. “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 FEI and the Italian National Federation were in agreement over the decision to postpone the event to 2021.
Final approval of the postponement was given by the FEI board at an extraordinary meeting conducted via video conference last week. The FEI board has also agreed to extend the qualification period for the Championships in order to allow more time for horses and riders following the disruption to this year’s calendar. Two Continental Endurance Championships, the Pan American Championships for Seniors & Young Riders in Campinas, Brazil, from 28-29 July, and the European Championships in Ermelo, in The Netherlands, from 6-11 September, have already been pushed back to next year. Nearly 800 events have either been cancelled or rescheduled globally on account of the pandemic. A call is yet to be taken on the status of the FEI Endurance World Championships for Young Horses and the FEI Endurance European Championships for Young Riders & Juniors, which are due to be held in Vic, Spain, from 25-27 September.