World Cup Finals of Dressage & Jumping in Gothenburg, Sweden Canceled–2nd Year in Row Championship Called Off

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

Mar. 12, 2021

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden have been canceled as a ban on international horse shows in Europe was extended Friday to April 11 amidst the on-going equine herpes virus outbreak.

The World Cups were to have begun on Mar. 30 but their cancellation means the annual global championships will not be held for two years as the 2020 event that was to be in Las Vegas was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) on Friday announced extension of the ban on equestrian shows in mainland Europe.

The starting lineup of 18 rider and horse combinations, including five from the Western Hemisphere, for the dressage World Cup Final were declared just a day ago.

“The FEI has imposed a further two-week extension of the shutdown of all international events in mainland Europe until 11 April 2021 due to the ongoing outbreak of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1),” the FEI said in a statement. The FEI had previously announced a 28-day shutdown on Mar. 1.

“The move, which aims to minimize the further spread of the very aggressive strain of the virus, was unanimously approved at an emergency FEI Executive Board meeting today,” said the organization that also owns the World Cups. “The extended lockdown applies to all FEI disciplines.

“The decision is based on detailed scientific risk assessment conducted by world leading epidemiologist Dr Richard Newton and the FEI Veterinary Department.

“The extended lockdown applies to all countries that have international scheduled events in the period to 11 April–Austria, Belgium, Spain, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden.

“However, the FEI again strongly recommends that all National Federations in mainland Europe cancel their national events in order to minimize horse movement.

“The shutdown will mean the cancellation of the FEI World Cup Finals for the second consecutive year following the loss of the 2020 Finals in Las Vegas (USA) to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said: “The extension of the lockdown is difficult for everyone, and the loss of the FEI World Cup Finals for a second year is particularly devastating, especially for the qualified athletes and for our loyal Top Partner Longines.

“We know how much work Tomas Torgersen and his incredible team in Gothenburg have put into organizing the 2021 Finals, which would have been part of the 400th birthday anniversary celebrations for the city, so this is a desperately bitter blow.

“We cannot eradicate EHV as it is endemic in many countries, but we need to work together to minimize the transmission of this particular strain, which has already caused the death of 12 horses in Europe.

“All of the original in-contact horses from Valencia, Vejer de la Frontera and Doha are already blocked on the FEI Database, but the whole community needs to be on the alert and monitoring their horses. We strongly urge all European-based FEI athletes to avoid travel with their horses during this prolonged shutdown, as travel is a very clear risk factor.

“Sadly this additional lockdown is crucial to slow down the spread of the virus so that we can preserve the rest of the season, get our athletes and horses back competing safely and allow as long a period as possible for those aiming for Tokyo to earn their Minimum Eligibility Requirements and confirmation results, and of course to prepare their horses for the Games.”

She promised “a comprehensive and fully transparent investigation into every aspect of this outbreak and the way it has been handled,” since it first broke out in Valencia, Spain in early February, but not reported to the FEI until Feb. 20 after several horses had left the show spreading EHV-1 throughout Europe.

“We will be putting in place enhanced protocols to allow for a safe return to play once this outbreak is under control,” Sabrine said, “and we will advise our community on those well in advance of the resumption of international events. But the priority right now has to be the treatment of sick horses and getting healthy horses back to their home countries in a safe and biosecure way. We all need to focus on safeguarding not just FEI horses, but the wider European horse community.”

Work on identifying the gene sequencing of this strain of the virus is already underway, and the FEI is continuing to monitor the evolution of the virus through the FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group, which was formalized this week.