Tightened Biosecurity Measures for World Cup Final Provide FEI, Organizers Confidence Championship Will Go On in 3 Weeks

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Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg that will host the World Cup Final in three weeks–with spectators restricted for coronavirus, extra biosecurity for Equine Herpes Virus

Mar. 9, 2021

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping have been cleared to go ahead in three weeks with spectators sharply limited by the coronavirus and extra biosecurity for horses to guard against Equine Herpes Virus at Gothenburg, Sweden in the first equestrian championships of 2021.

The FEI–the International Equestrian Federation–expressed confidence Tuesday that the event in the 12,000-seat Scandinavium arena with up to 18 dressage horses and riders and 45 jumpers will go ahead as scheduled Mar. 30 to April 4.

Four dressage horses and 10 jumpers have so far been booked by the Dutta Corp. to fly from Miami to Amsterdam Mar, 25 followed by a road trip of 680 miles/1,100km to Gothenburg.

The joint World Cup Finals were canceled for the first time in 2020 when they were to be held in Las Vegas three months after coronavirus began. The World Cup Finals of jumping was first held in 1979 and for dressage in 1985 as the only annual global championships of the two disciplines.

The status of this year’s World Cup was questioned by reporters at a briefing by the FEI Tuesday on the EHV-1 outbreak in Europe that has killed 10 horses and led to lockdowns of all international horse shows in several nations, including Sweden, until Mar. 28.

FEI Veterinary Director Dr. Göran Åkerström of Sweden and FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said the main priority was safety of horses and making sure there was no further spread of the disease that began at a competition in Valencia, Spain.

They promised a “thorough investigation” of the outbreak was not reported to the FEI until Feb. 20, days after several horses infected with the aggressive neurological form of EHV-1 had left Valencia with no testing to travel home throughout Europe.

“We would not go ahead if it wasn’t safe,” Dr. Åkerström replied to a question about the World Cup.

Sweden dealt with an outbreak of the disease two years ago, he said, and measures implemented as a result would be applied in Gothenburg and raised to a higher level.

“We can only go ahead if there is a safe biosecure competition,” he said.

Sabrina said that no riders had made known to the FEI concerns about the safety of the competition.