Opinion: No Olympics without CSI5* competitions

Opinion: No Olympics without CSI5* competitions

2020 should have been a great equestrian year full of CSI5* competitions. However Corona got in the way and one CSI5* competition after another was cancelled. It is already clear that a lot of World Cup legs this winter are not sure if their edition of 2020-2021 can take place. The question is if organizing a CSI5* competition will even be possible in 2020 and 2021. However, these competitions are necessary to guarantee the Olympics. If the biggest 5* events in the world can not take place next year, it will be impossible to guarantee the quality of equestrian sport in Tokyo.

If the Olympics can take place in 2021, the horses need to be prepared. This is impossible if they can only jump CSI3* competitions in the months before the biggest sports event in the world. A solution needs to be found that will be beneficial for the organizers, the riders and the sport itself. Horsetrading needs to get back on its feet as well, since the market for the Olympics is still open. Therefore it's extremely important that the biggest level of our sport can be guaranteed in 2020 and 2021.

The organization of a CSI5* events of course is very expensive, not only the organization itself is a big part of the total budget, the prize money that has to be paid, can't be underestimated either. Often sponsors carry a big part of those costs but finding the right sponsors for CSI5* events will not be easy in 2021. It is possible that sponsors are affected by the Corona crisis themselves or that sponsors are afraid to step forward as a company that is still able to sponsor sports competitions. However,  new sponsors can step forward, a situation that occurred after the bank crisis of 2008.

Organizations of CSI5* shows can of course look for new sponsors or they can lower the prize money of their competition. It is however the question if riders will be okay with this and if this is appropriate at all. Riders were also affected by the Corona crisis and saw their income cut in these past months. Not only did they see their prize money drop out, not much was happening in horsetrading either. Riders who are also breeders, could of course count on an income, but this was only a fraction of their normal income. 

Another way to reduce the cost of a CSI5 * event is to have each rider pay their registration fee and hotel. It is customary at many events to invite the top thirty of the world to participate, which means that they do not have to pay an entry fee. In addition, their travel and hotel costs are usually paid for as well. The question rises how big the financial impact of the Corona crisis will be on the best riders of the world and whether they are willing to pay a part of the costs themselves.

It is however certain that there must be found a solution in order to make the Olympic Games of 2021 happen. A concession from the riders may be necessary, but the question arises whether riders, who already lost a lot of income the last couple of months should be 'punished'. The FEI may also have to make a contribution if they want to ensure and maintain the level during the Olympic Games.