By Jonathan Rest
The FEI, the international governing body for equestrian sports, has been forced to re-open the bidding process for the World Equestrian Games in 2018 after Bromont in Quebec, Canada, the host city in waiting, failed to provide the necessary financial guarantees on the day it was due to be awarded the event.
This was despite the fact that the Canadian delegation made assurances to the FEI more than six months ago that the finances were in order.
Bromont was due to sign the host city contract on the first day of the FEI's two-day bureau meeting in Lausanne yesterday, after it was the only candidate to last the distance since the bid process began 20 months ago.
But the FEI said that without the necessary financial support, "the FEI and the organisers would be exposed to an unacceptable financial risk."
Ingmar De Vos, FEI secretary general, told Sportcal in a statement today: "The deadline for receipt of the signed host agreement, which includes a commitment on financial guarantees, was 15 December 2012. The Bromont bid committee had informed the FEI that the required financial support would be in place in time for the allocation on 1 July, but were unfortunately not able to meet that commitment."
Even prior to that, all national federations that submitted signed 'Expression of Interest' documents prior to the November 2011 deadline for the first phase of the 2018 bidding process were informed that solid financial support to cover the cost of staging the event "was a key requirement."
Despite Bromont's failure to back up its promise to the FEI, the federation has asked the city to try again for the 2018 games.
The procedure and timelines for the new bidding process have yet to be announced, although De Vos said the intention was to allocate the games in the spring of 2014.
HRH Princess Haya, president of the FEI, said: "The Bromont bid was very impressive on all technical aspects and it is hugely disappointing, both for the bid team and for the FEI, that the bureau was unable to allocate the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018."
She added: "In these circumstances, re-opening the bidding process was clearly the only option open to us, but we are very hopeful that Bromont will be a part of that new bidding process."
Paul Côté, president of the Bromont bid committee, said: "We are of course extremely disappointed by [the] decision by the FEI Bureau not to allocate the 2018 Games to Canada, but despite our best efforts, we were unable to put the full financial support in place in time.
"We obviously respect the FEI Bureau’s decision completely, and we will continue our efforts to secure the financial backing we need. We now need to redouble our efforts with our federal and provincial government partners."
Bromont had planned to use the Montreal 1976 Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony and the Bromont Equestrian Park, which staged the equestrian events at the 1976 Olympic Games, was the proposed venue for all seven disciplines - jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining – in 2018.
Bromont's only other remaining challenger for 2018, Vienna, dropped out of the race after the Austrian Equestrian Federation failed to sign and return the host city contract to the FEI by the year-end 2012 deadline.
Of the other contenders, Rabat in Morocco dropped out towards the end of last year, saying its candidacy had "lost its driving force" following the death of HRH Princess Lalla Amina, chair of the Royal Moroccan Federation for Equestrian Sports, while Wellington in the US state of Florida withdrew its bid a year ago, citing a change in the local government.
In June 2012, the Hungarian Equestrian Federation withdrew the candidacy of the country’s capital Budapest, vowing to support the Vienna bid instead.
Applications from Sweden, Australia and Russia, all of which submitted formal expressions of interest to the FEI when the bid process began in November 2011, were subsequently withdrawn.
Normandy in France will stage the 2014 World Equestrian Games between August 23 and September 7.