Coronavirus Updates–European-Based Horses Leaving Florida Ahead of Schedule

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Zuidenwind, competed by Japan’s Akane Kuroki at Florida’s Global Dressage Festival, has flown out of Miami for Europe where the combination is based preparing for the Tokyo Olympics. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

European-Based Horses Leaving Florida Ahead of Schedule

Dressage horses in Wellington, Florida for the Global Dressage Festival are already shipping home to Europe despite a crunch due to the early cancellation of the winter dressage, jumping and polo circuits as well as Global Champions Tour events in Miami and Mexico.

Some horses from Germany–including several from Japanese riders seeking to be on their nation’s team at the Tokyo Olympics who competed in Wellington–have already shipped from Miami International Airport. Most had been booked to leave at the end of the month.

Zuidenwind, competed by Japan’s Akane Kuroki, shipped out Wednesday after a successful circuit in Wellington as part of preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

Michael Klimke, based in Münster, Germany who competes his own horses as well as some for Harmony Sporthorses, said the horses are scheduled to leave Thursday.

However, with some European airlines canceling passenger flights into Miami, he has to go to New York to fly home, which he hopes to do Saturday.

Christoph Koschel, based in Hagen, Germany and the coach of the Japanese dressage team, reported that six of the 12 horses that were originally scheduled to going back to Europe at the end of March are on a flight for next Monday and the other six five days later.

Because of the uncertainty in the current situation, he said, he and his family plan to stay in Florida for several more days and then decide what to do.

Christoph had high praise for the efforts of The Dutta Corp. for handling of an extraordinarily difficult and unforeseen disruption of shipping schedules while an official at Global where some foreign horses were stabled said the company had performed “above and beyond” what could be expected.

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Horse Show Cancellations More Than 224 Worldwide Stretching into July

More than 224 horse shows–31 dressage events–have been canceled around the world in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, stretching into July.

The international calendar of events lists cancellations of 55 shows up to the end of last week when governments as well as show organizers implemented some closures and restrictions on admitting the general public. Another 169 events since then have been canceled running into July, but the number is actually higher as some shows known to be closed have not officially notified the FEI.

The cancellations cover dressage shows in at least 13 nations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and the United States.

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US Dressage Federation Suspends Accepting Scores

The USDF announced Wednesday no scores from US Equestrian Federation-licensed/USDF-recognized competitions will be accepted until April 15.

Any scores earned during this time will not be applicable to any USDF championship or awards programs, nor be recorded as a part of a horse or rider’s official record with USDF. This will also apply to scores earned at schooling competitions participating in the USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program.

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Olympic Gold Medalists Criticize International Olympic Committee for Approach to Tokyo Games

IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser, a member of four Olympic gold medal team for Canada, and 2016 Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece have sharply criticized the IOC for insisting Tokyo will go ahead as planned.

Hayley Wickenheiser called the IOC for not entertaining the idea of a postponement or cancellation as “insensitive and irresponsible.”

Katerina Stefanidi, one of 18 members of the World Athletics Athletes’ Commission and scheduled to light a small cauldron at the handover ceremony behind closed doors for the Olympic Flame to Tokyo 2020 officials on Thursday told Reuters:

“From January until now the situation has deteriorated dramatically and in the same period the IOC has repeated the same things.

“We all want Tokyo to happen but what is the Plan B if it does not happen? There is no postponement, no cancellation. But it [the IOC] is putting us at risk. Knowing about a possible option has a major effect on my training because I may be taking risks now that I would not take if I knew there was also the possibility of a Plan B.”

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Allows Open Schooling

Equestrian Sport Productions will allow open schooling through the end of this week with strict limits on the numbers of people who can be involved in an effort to preserve horse welfare and keep and staff and industry professionals in jobs. Many horses are stabled in and around the jumper and hunter showgrounds.

The organizer of the Winter Equestrian and Global Dressage Festivals that were closed two weeks early because of the pandemic said it will maintain cancellation of previously scheduled competitions.