Frank Kemperman, CHIO Aachen Event Director & FEI Dressage Committee Chair, Expects “Several” European Indoor Show Cancellations–World of Show Jumping

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Frank Kemperman in the Deutsche Bank dressage stadium with the main stadium in the background preparing for the CHIO Aachen, Germany in an earlier year. File photo. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

June 5, 2020

Frank Kemperman, chairman of the FEI Dressage Committee, said he expected “several” European indoor shows will be canceled this coming winter due to the coronavirus pandemic that led to cancellation of the CHIO in Aachen, Germany of which he is event director.

“I think we will have to expect several cancellations for the indoor season at least,” he said in an exclusive interview with the European-based World of Show Jumping Internet site on what was to be the start of Aachen this year.

The last-minute cancellation in March of the Dutch Masters World Cup event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands of which is the sport director created a very difficult situation both financially and practically, he said. “We’ll end up losing a lot of money, how much is not clear yet. For some events having this happen would kill them.”

Cancellation of Aachen, the world’s premier horse show that stages the three Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping as well as driving and vaulting and employs 35 people year round, was a “catastrophe” in economic terms, but not as serious as the Dutch Masters. The Netherlands show was the last scheduled qualifier for the final in Las Vegas a month later that was also canceled.

So far, one dressage–Madrid–and two jumping Western European qualifiers–Madrid and Helsinki–for the 2021 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden have been canceled. Several World Cup events have also been canceled in North America, Eastern Europe and Australia, but some new dates have been set for replacement events as the pandemic appears to be easing.

“Many organizers will soon have to decide on whether or not to open ticket sales, and they are faced with a lot of questions–a) are there available venues; several indoor arenas as still used as medical facilities and look like hospitals; b) will they get permission to host the event, and if yes, what will the conditions be, c) can the horses and riders travel to the event without restrictions,” Frank told World of Show Jumping.

“Right now, only time will tell how many big events we will have this year.

“I hope for the sport that it can pick up again at the highest level, but we have to ask ourselves if it will be financially sustainable?

“If hosting events come on the condition to do so without spectators, the answer for most five-, four- and even three-star organizers will be no, as both hospitality and ticket sales are big parts of the budget. On top, you need sponsors, otherwise it is not possible.”