Ingmar de Vos became President of the FEI almost five years ago. He is probably facing the most challenging problems of his career right now: the Corona Virus. He is one of the people who had to decide whether the Olympics Could take place or not... The Belgian Federation KBRSF talked with him about his responsibilities and the problems our sport is facing right now...
"I presume rescheduling the Olympics wasn't an easy decision..."
Of course not. I already spoke to the President of the IOC Thomas Back two weeks ago and then it already became clear that we would probably postpone the Olympics. We already voted back then me, Thomas and all the Presidents of the Olympic Sportfederations and came to the conclusion that we would probably postpone the Games. We however waited to take a permanent decision for four weeks. Suddenly the Corona virus started to spread all over the world and we coudln't wait any longer to take the decision. We were also in constant contact with the WHO and when the virus hit the United States, it became clear that postponing the Olympics to 2021 was the only right decision to make.
Which parameters were used making the decision?
"The most important issue was the health of our athletes. Since we didn't and still don't know how long the Coronacrisis is going to last, we couldn't risk their health or the health of the crowd. But besides that, there were also sportive parameters, only 53% of the athletes was already qualified for the Olympics. There are no competitions at the moment so it wouldn't be fair to athletes who still had to qualify. There just wouldn't be enough time for them to get in shape and the perform at their top level".
Which impact does the Coronavirus have on our sport?
At the end of January the first competitions were cancelled in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It seems logical that those shows were cancelled first since the virus started in Asia. After that cancellations kept on coming. Worldwide 397 international competitions are cancelled which of course is huge. The FEI has some crisis-scenarios ready, but we never thought we would face these kind of problems. A lot of organizations are asking us to postpone their competition to a date later this year, but that's not so easy as it seems. We can't guarantee them a date later in the year if we don't know when everything's going to go back to normal. It is possible that Europe will be ready earlier than the USA, but we just don't know. Everyone will have to sit, stay at home and wait what happens.
And what about the competitions that are scheduled for the summer of 2021, given the fact that the Olympics are taking place then?
"That's a difficult matter. In August, the Europeans for Eventing, Jumping and Dressage will take place but of course that will be way to early for athletes who are also competing at the Olympics. We will have to give the horses some rest... All of this is still a big question mark. The only thing I'm sure of, is that it will nog be easy to make the puzzle of competitondates next year...