The FEI, equestrianism’s world governing body, said today that it has “already received some exciting expressions of interest” for its re-formatted FEI World Championships in 2022, following a decision late last year to accept individual championship bids for the seven disciplines that formerly made up the quadrennial World Equestrian Games.
With more submissions expected before the 28 February deadline, Ingmar De Vos, the FEI’s president, said: “I am delighted to say that the level of interest and the quality of submissions to host FEI World Championships in 2022 has been very high so far, and we are confident that we will have an interesting pool of candidates to choose from when the allocations are made later this year.”
The FEI initiated a bid process for individual FEI World Championships in all disciplines for 2022 at its general assembly in November, albeit De Vos stressed at the time that this does not necessarily mean the end of the FEI World Equestrian Games concept. Consequently, bids to host the full seven disciplines together for 2022 are also being considered.
However, the showpiece World Equestrian Games has been looking increasingly unlikely to stay on the calendar because of the considerable hosting costs and logistical challenges.
For the first time since the all-in-one format was introduced in 1990, cities have been able to submit bids for one or more of the seven disciplines that make up the games: dressage (and para-dressage); driving; jumping; eventing; reining; vaulting; and endurance.
The FEI board has said that preference will be given to multi-discipline bids, while it also agreed that ideally the World Championships for dressage and para-dressage should be combined.
De Vos said: ““Equestrian sport has become increasingly globalised, but there are relatively few countries that have the capacity to host world championships in all disciplines simultaneously.
“The new bid process allows for the sustainable and cost-effective use of existing equestrian sports facilities and for the FEI to partner with national federations that may have hesitated putting forward multi-discipline bids in the past. The door is now open for these federations to consider submitting an expression of interest for an individual world championship in the discipline of their choice.”
In a key change to the bid process, the FEI will host an interactive workshop at the end of March in Lausanne for all national federations and organising committees that submit an expression of interest in the 2022 World Championships.
De Vos continued: “This interactive workshop is a key factor in ensuring that we adequately convey the structure, opportunities and minimum requirements of hosting the FEI World Championships 2022. By working more closely with the national federations and organising committees from the very start of the process, we can ensure a unified vision and establish an achievable set of goals to work towards.”
The decision to accept individual championship bids followed the major problems the FEI encountered during the bid processes for both the 2018 and 2022 World Equestrian Games.
In 2017, Samorin, in Slovakia, withdrew its bid - the only one on the table - to host the 2022 edition, and no alternative city has come forward since then.
Samorin had been the sole candidate for 2022 after Lexington in Kentucky, USA withdrew its candidacy at the turn of 2017 citing financial concerns.
The FEI suffered a series of setbacks in the bid process for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, which were eventually awarded in 2016 to Mill Spring in North Carolina, but only after Bromont in Canada terminated its hosting contract, also citing financial issues.
Bromont had been named host in June 2014, less than a year after the city had been due to be awarded the event, only for it to fail to provide the necessary financial guarantees. That caused the FEI to reopen the bid process, but Bromont saw off the challenge of Lexington to be confirmed as the host.
While the 2018 games did go ahead, they were not without complications, further prompting the hosting format change from 2022.
The 2022 FEI World Championships are due to be allocated at a board meeting at the FEI General Assembly in Moscow in November.