FEI Chief “Confident” of Solving 2018 Bromont World Games Crisis

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FEI President Ingmar De Vos
FEI President Ingmar De Vos

May 4, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Ingmar de Vos, president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), expressed confidence Wednesday that problems surrounding the showcase 2018 World Equestrian Games in Bromont, Canada would be solved following the resignation of five members of the board of directors and the chief executive officer frustrated over the lack of money and planning.

But Ingmar, who was in Canada last month for the national federation’s annual convention, said the FEI that owns the event of the seven world horse sport championships plus para equestrian “need to look at all options.”

He replied to questions from dressage-news.com including whether the FEI was considering alternatives to Bromont after the latest crisis facing the World Games organizing committee.

The committee is behind schedule and short of money in staging the Games held once every four years of the sports governed by the FEI–dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining and vaulting plus para equestrian.

The board resignations were the latest in a succession of issues that have plagued the event since it was awarded to the 1976 Olympic venue more than an hour outside Montreal after it was turned down in the first round. Other bidders dropped out or were not possible because of commercial links to a sponsor in conflict with Longines, the Swiss-based watch and timing company that is a primary title sponsor of jumping events. According to the resigning board members, Longines has been the only major sponsor of Bromont.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida or the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington that were considered alternatives to Bromont are closely tied to Rolex, a competing timing company, as is Aachen, Germany. Aachen was the 2006 host and Lexington in 2010, both before the FEI based in Lausanne, Switzerland signed the sponsorship agreement with Longines.

Ingmar said that while he was in Canada late last month, he met with rpresentatives of Equine Canada and the remaining board members of the Bromont organizing committee “to address the outstanding issues and delays, which mainly centered around planning and finance” of the WEG that would be the eighth edition of the event since it was first staged in Stockholm in 1990.

“We need to get a full picture of the situation and look at how we can work together with Equestrian Canada and the remaining members of the Board to deliver the Games,” he said.

“We are confident that we will find a good solution, but we need to look at all options.

“The FEI remains fully committed to the concept of the World Equestrian Games and believes that this way of organizing World Championships across all our disciplines is absolutely right for our sport. The World Equestrian Games are enthusiastically embraced by a large majority of our community and there is already strong interest in the bidding process for the 2022 Games.

“We are confident that solutions will be found, but in the interests of our whole community, we have the responsibility to ask the right questions and protect the future of our flagship events.”

The World Games have frequently been fraught with difficulties.

The inaugural 1990 WEG was regarded as highly successful as was the 2006 WEG in Aachen. But the 1994 Games in Den Haag, Netherlands were a financial and organizational mess, the 1998 Games had to be moved on short notice to Rome after the Dublin effort collapsed, the 2002 event incurred financial obligations that took years to pay off while the 2010 Lexington WEG required about $100 million to renovate the Kentucky Horse Park and another $100 million to operate but still ran out of money. The 2014 organizers claimed a financial success in Normandy but the organization was rated poor.

The FEI admitted during its Sport Forum last month that it is reviewing the format though it said said stakeholders supported the concept.