Britain Opts Out of 2021 Pony and Junior European Championships Due to COVID-19 Risk

Britain’s silver medal winning Pony Team at the 2017 Europeans. Photo by G Herrling.

Great Britain will not send teams to the Pony and Junior European Championships this summer due to the ongoing risk presented by COVID-19. The announcement was made on Friday, May 21, as the UK reckons with the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant — commonly known as the Indian variant — throughout parts of the country.

“In consultation with the Youth Performance Manager and Chair of Pony Selectors, it has been agreed that the current situation created by COVID-19 means that sending under 18-year-old competitors creates a level of risk which is unacceptable to the sport,” explains the press release.

“The requirement to have a larger support team with these two youth squads to ensure appropriate safeguarding, combined with the current uncertainty particularly surrounding travel, means the difficult decision has been made not to send them.”

Great Britain are the reigning Pony European champions, having won both team and individual gold in the last two editions of the Championships, while British Juniors took team and individual silver in 2019.

Great Britain still intends to send a Young Rider team to Segersjö, Sweden, though the country is currently on the UK’s amber travel list, which means that increased testing and a quarantine requirement will be in place for those who make the journey – and, pertinently, it is more difficult to secure insurance for the trip. A final decision will be made by June 21 and will depend largely on Sweden’s travel status in a month’s time.

“We appreciate that this is extremely disappointing for those participating on the Youth Performance Programmes and we are working with the Youth Performance Manager and Chair of Pony Selectors to provide other opportunities for these athletes across the remainder of the season,” concludes the statement.

The Junior and Young Rider European Eventing Championships are set to take place from August 26–29 in Sweden, while the Pony European Championships will run from August 11-15 in Strzegom, Poland.