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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Endurance world championships cancelled over safety issues

ABOVE: Andrea Laws-King was due to represent Australia next month. Picture: ANIMAL FOCUS

THE Endurance World Championships, due to be held next month in Italy, have been cancelled due to safety concerns.

The FEI board has confirmed the termination of the host agreement for the event and its decision to reopen the bid process in order to find a new host.

It has been a devastating blow to riders all around the world who were well into their final preparation.

“This is really unfortunate for everyone involved but if the experts are of the opinion that the safety of the athletes – both human and equine – cannot be guaranteed, the board has no other option but to follow their recommendations,” FEI president Ingmar De Vos said.

“Athletes around the world, as well as National Federations, have been preparing for this championship, and we are extremely conscious of the impact the cancellation will have on their plans. However, previous experiences have taught us that there is no room for compromise when it comes to athlete and horse welfare. We will now focus all our attention on finding a new host for the FEI Endurance World Championship.”

Andrea Laws-King, one of two Australian riders selected to represent Australia, was disappointed but understanding.

“It takes years to reach this level of competition and then to be selected to represent your country is such a huge honour,” she said.

“However, I think that all riders and teams would agree that the FEI obviously had very compelling reasons for re-scheduling the championships and re-opening bids for a new location.

“No-one has been privy to the exact reason the FEI decided to cancel the championships but apparently the technical team at the FEI had a number of concerns that the organising team could not rectify.

“Horse welfare and rider safety are always of paramount concern in any horse discipline.”

Ms Laws-King, who represented Australia at the last World Championships in Pisa, Italy, last year, believes competitors will understand the FEI's decision.

“It will not be an easy task for a new organising committee to put together a competition of this standard. It usually takes years of planning and much funding,” she said.

“The World Championships in Pisa in 2021, in which I was the only Australian rider, was an example of superb organisation and a beautiful track, even in the middle of a pandemic.”

The FEI Board has decided that the rescheduled championship should take place no later than April 30 next year to allow organisers from all regions of the world to bid and given that other FEI Endurance Championships are scheduled to take place later in 2023.

The bid process for the championship has already opened.

The qualification obtained for the FEI Endurance World Championship 2022 will remain valid and the nominated entries will be reopened with an extended qualification window.

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