The situation surrounding coronavirus is changing by the day, but it seems that the effects of this virus are going to be unavoidable, with travel being one of the main things to affect our sport. Many people are already speculating whether the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead as planned or whether it will have to be moved, postponed or cancelled.
All these possibilities would have a bigger impact than we can conceive – it is hard to imagine the number of flights already booked, the hotels organised, and the numbers of volunteers, officials and teams around the athletes themselves that have been part of precision planning for months and even years in advance.
To change venues, or even just the time frame, would be huge, and the financial implications are also pretty mind-boggling.
Some people think this is a big drama over nothing, given that many consider the virus to be on a par with seasonal flu, yet others are panicking. Hindsight is a beautiful thing in these situations, but one thing is for sure – coronavirus can’t be ignored.
I am meant to be travelling to Dortmund, Germany, next week for a big competition and this is definitely an added concern. We have to take each day as it comes and change plans accordingly, if necessary.
If we do all start having to delay or change our show plans, it is going to affect those on more experienced team horses in terms of how they can prepare, as well as those of us on younger horses, who will struggle to do what we need to in time to impress selectors. It may narrow the field of choice for this year’s team.
However, it does seem as though there is some sort of drama every Olympic year. In Rio, everyone was worried about the zika virus, and I am sure that when Paris 2024 comes around there will be something else that organisers have to contend with.
Let’s all hope Tokyo 2020 goes ahead as planned for the sake of all the athletes who are ready this year, all the other people involved and, most of all, to keep the Olympic spirit alive and to encourage all those, young and old, who take their inspiration from watching great sporting moments of hardship and triumph.
Just to add more doom to the gloom, if it doesn’t stop raining soon I think quite a few of our Olympic hopefuls might be starting a new discipline of equestrian swimming.
The wet weather has made things very difficult, and horses all around us are struggling for turnout. Getting horses fit has been an issue – I am lucky that we have a great road circuit to hack on, but for many people training has been tricky and even for those who have indoor schools, their horses haven’t really seen outside them.
I find myself reminiscing fondly about the two seasons I spent in Florida with the horses and my family, avoiding the English winter from January to March. But the daffodils are out now and surely spring is around the corner.
In the meantime, stay dry, wash your hands and battle on in true British spirit.
Ref Horse & Hound; 12 March 2020