A decision by the Canadian federal government not to provides funds for the 2018 World Equestrian Games scheduled for Bromont, Quebec, leaves the event in a fiscal hole from which there may be no way out.
The WEG has been in trouble from the start. Bromont got the original nod for the competition, which subsequently was re-bid, with Bromont again selected as host when alternatives weren’t forthcoming. The Wellington, Fla., showgrounds were out because Rolex is a major sponsor of the Winter Equestrian Festival there, and Longines is the big sponsor of the FEI (international equestrian federation). The Rolex stadium is the focal point of the Kentucky Horse Park–scene of the 2010 WEG (which ran at a loss)–so it cannot be the venue either.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez acknowledged that, “The FEI has been officially advised by the Bromont Organising Committee (COJEM) that the Canadian Federal Government has made the decision not to fund the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Bromont and obviously this is very disappointing. As the international governing body, the FEI has a responsibility to ask the right questions and protect the future of our flagship events so, as a matter of priority, we will be meeting with the COJEM Board and the National Federation, Equestrian Canada (actually Equine Canada), to get a full picture of the situation and to look at next steps.”
With only two years before the WEG is scheduled to get under way, the FEI will have to move fast. It may be time to scrap the WEG concept that began in 1990 and go back either to individual world championships for the eight disciplines that make up the WEG, or do them in groupings, such as show jumping, dressage and para-dressage, which has been presented for the European Championships.
Problems with putting together the WEG are nothing new. The venues that won the bids for the WEGS of 1994 (Paris) and 1998 (Ireland) both dropped out and other nations pitched in with little time to spare. The 1994 Games in the Hague, Netherlands, were a financial disaster. The 1998 Games in Rome were well put together, despite the short window organizers had for arranging their competition. Rome did not, however, include endurance, reining and para-dressage, all of which are part of the eight-discipline package at this time.