The FEI has agreed to reopen the bidding process for the 2021 European Eventing Championships after a social media campaign led by Michael Jung gained traction over the past weeks. The Championships, which were originally set to be held in France at Haras du Pin, were cancelled earlier this year in line with the postponement of the Olympic Games, but after early campaigning, both the dressage and showjumping championships were reinstated. Eventing, however, was not.
Horse&Hound reported last week that the FEI had explained eventing’s lack of reinstatement after Jung’s initial call for the Championships to be reinstated in the 2021 calendar. A spokesman told the magazine that an initial bidding process had been opened with a July 21, 2020 deadline, and three venues had applied to host the Championships through that process – Haras du Pin, Ireland’s Millstreet, and an unnamed third venue.
“Due to the third organising committee’s relative inexperience of hosting an event on the scale of the European Championships, this expression of interest did not proceed to the formal bidding/applicant stage,” the spokesman said, continuing on to explain that the other two bids had been reviewed, with the FEI offering significant financial support to ease the burden on the organisers.
But, the spokesman explained, “ultimately, Haras du Pin and Millstreet voluntarily withdrew from the process, due to their limitation to hold the championships on the selected dates and ongoing concerns around Covid-19. Following the withdrawal, and on the understanding that the Olympics would go ahead in 2021, the FEI board agreed not to re-open the bidding process for the eventing Europeans.”
Jung’s plea via social media for a reinstated Championship named the Swiss CCI4*-S venue at Avenches as a viable and prepared location, with a “motivated and experienced” team. He went on to explain that the new Olympic format, which sees just three combinations represent each qualified team, furthered the necessity for these Championships as a way to progress the next generation of team competitors and continue the development of young eventing nations. But, said the FEI spokesman, Avenches had never come forward in the official bidding process.
But today (December 17) the FEI has made a U-turn in its seemingly final decision to pull the plug on the 2021 European Eventing Championships, and has agreed to reopen the bidding process for a final time.
“Further to the numerous requests received from a number of European eventing stakeholders, including national federations and athletes, and with the full support of the European Equestrian Federation and the FEI Eventing Committee, the Board agreed to reopen the bidding process for the European Eventing Championship 2021,” said the statement. Bidding will open from December 18 and will close on January 15, 2021. The decision will be made in March 2021 via a teleconference.