New year, same story: FEI reopens bid process for World Equestrian Games
The FEI, equestrianism’s governing body, has been handed an unwanted case of déjà vu after Samorin, in Slovakia, withdrew its bid - the only one on the table - to host the FEI's showpiece World Equestrian Games in 2022.
Despite lengthy discussions with the FEI, the Samorin team never signed the host city contract and pulled the bid, leaving the FEI bureau to announce at its general assembly in Montevideo, Uruguay that the bidding window is back open.
The FEI had hoped to rubber-stamp Samorin as the host this week, but Ingmar de Vos, FEI president, told delegates: "We are confident there will be candidates, but these are complex games and we need to make sure we do it right."
A new host will now be sought in time for the 2018 general assembly in 12 months' time.
De Vos admitted to Sportcal two months ago that the World Equestrian Games had become too big and too expensive, and that changes would have to be made to reinvigorate the bidding process, but it seems those changes will now have to be introduced earlier than originally anticipated.
Samorin had been the sole candidate for 2022 after Lexington in Kentucky, USA withdrew its candidacy at the turn of the year citing financial concerns.
The federation suffered a series of setbacks in the bid process for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, which were eventually awarded last year 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.
De Vos had told Sportcal on the sidelines of the International Olympic Committee session in Lima, Peru two months ago, where he was elected an IOC member, that "we have a very solid candidate and we will work with that candidate to have very good games."
Asked about the 2018 bid process, he said: “It is a position of concern, absolutely. We are looking, like all international federations, at how we can reduce costs for the organisers, how we can limit the number of athletes - the costs are related to the number of athletes. We will have to look at a quota system in the future.”
The FEI insists, however, that the games do provide a significant return on investment, as much as €400 million ($474 million) for the host country on an outlay of around €80 million.