Aachen CHIO, World’s Largest & Most Prestigious Horse Show, Canceled for 2020 Due to Coronavirus

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The Aachen, Germany, main stadium. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

April 22, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany has been canceled for this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time except for World War II in the 122-year history of what is the globe’s largest and most prestigious horse show.

Cancellation of the event that includes Nations Cups in the three Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping and is the premier competition aside from the Olympics was announced by Frank Kemperman, chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein that organizes the CHIO.

Aachen CHIO provides the world’s most competitive horse show schedule drawing a total of about 350,000 paying spectators over 10 days, with its own 8,000-seat permanent dressage stadium, a 40,000-seat main arena for jumping as well an event course that ends in the main arena, four-in-hand driving arena and vaulting in an indoor center.

The CDIO5* dressage Nations Cup, for example, is typically the final team selection event not only for Germany, but also several other countries including the United States.

Aachen has been the centerpiece of the Dutta Corp. American team summer circuit, and this year was to be the deciding competition for the squad to go to the Tokyo Olympics that itself was postponed for a year to 2021.

Aachen hosted the World Equestrian Games in 2006, and has hosted several other championships including the Europeans in 2015.

At least 600 of the 1,600 dressage, driving, endurance, event jumping, reining, vaulting and para dressage competitions on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) schedule for this year have been canceled.

“Against the background of the national and international developments as well as the measures adopted by the (German) federal government, it was decided to cancel the CHIO Aachen 2020,” he said as the organization had sought to find an alternate date after the initial scheduled program for the first week of June was put off.

“This was a very emotional and very difficult decision for us,” said Michael Mronz, general manager of the Aachener Reitturnier GmbH (ART) that handles marketing for the event that typically draws total crowds of a quarter million paying spectators.

In spite of the CHIO being “well-aligned thanks to its strong, reliable partners and the great support of its loyal spectators, the situation still presents a huge challenge,” he said.

A virtual CHIO Aachen 2020 will be staged, Michael said, with details of the digital version to be announced shortly.

The corona cancellation is the first time that the CHIO Aachen has ever been canceled since it was first launched in 1898.

The Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein was founded, initially for horse races, and subsequently smaller horse shows were organized.

The CHIO is woven into the fabric of Germany, with hundreds of volunteers some families for generations that set their annual vacations around the event.

“The solidarity of the people with their CHIO Aachen is immense during these difficult times,” reported Carl Meulenbergh, ALRV president. Many of the ticket holders have made it known they will not seek reimbursement of ticket prices.

“We are sincerely grateful to them for this generous gesture,” he said. “As a non-profit making organization, the ALRV is reliant on this support.”

Tickets bought for this year can be converted into tickets for the CHIO Aachen in 2021–June 25-July 4.