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Coronavirus outbreak leads to cancellation of major show

The Hong Kong leg of the Longines Masters series will not take place this year because of the outbreak of coronavirus.

Organisers EEM said the cancellation of the show, scheduled to take place at the AsiaWorld-Expo (14-16 February), was a “precaution” following “recent developments” in the spread of the illness, which has now impacted Hong Kong and all of mainland China.

As of yesterday (29 January), Chinese health authorities had confirmed 7,711 cases of the new virus, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan at the beginning of the month. Infections have now been recorded in 15 other countries, with the death toll standing at 170.

The Longines masters show, which takes place alongside the Asia Horse Week (13-16 February), would have attracted 35,000 visitors to Hong Kong from Asia and around the world.

“The safety of our audience, athletes, visitors, exhibitors, service providers, internal teams, as well as that of the horses taking part in the events of the Longines Masters Series, is an absolute priority,” said Christophe Ameeuw, founder and president of EEM.

“Considering the uncertainty surrounding the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak, and in order to guarantee the welfare of our guests, partners and stakeholders, it is without hesitation that we decided not to hold the event.

“Our loyal partners, which include Longines, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, DBS Bank, Hong Kong International Airport, AsiaWorld-Expo, the Hong Kong Tourism Office and TVB Pearl, who have already been informed, showed their understanding and support.”

In a statement, EEM added that riders due to compete at the show would be contacted individually in “the coming days”. Members of the public who have booked tickets will also be reimbursed and can find more information on www.cityline.com.

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Hong Kong has been part of the Longines masters series for the past five seasons and has been the scene of memorable British triumphs, including a double-victory from John Whitaker and Argento when they took both the master’s grand prix and Gucci gold cup in 2015. Last year the grand prix was won by Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Chablis.

Alongside the Asian leg, the tri-continental masters series also takes place in Paris, Lausanne and New York.

This year would have been the third edition of the Asia Horse Week, which was introduced in 2018. The inaugural edition of the Asian Arabian Horse Show, which was to be held as part of Asia Horse Week, has also been cancelled.

The exhibition was introduced by EEM to “bring together key leaders and stakeholders of the global equestrian industry” and highlight the opportunities for the growth of equestrian sport in Asia.

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