The continuing drama over the 2018 World Equestrian Games has taken another step with the USA and Great Britain entering the picture as possible hosts of the event.
Originally, five cities had their hats in the ring to host WEG 2018, but one by one, they dropped out, leaving Bromont in Canada as the only contender.
Rabat (Morocco), Budapest (Hungary); Vienna (Austria) and Wellington (Florida, USA) reached Official Candidate status before dropping out.
Britain has not yet proposed a host city, but the re-emergence of the USA as a possible host brings two possibilities into the frame. The 2010 WEG host of Lexington, Kentucky, has proven it has the goods to do the event justice, but Wellington in Florida, the winter equestrian sports capital of the USA, is also in the picture.
It is not yet clear which entities are behind the latest US bid.
The earlier bid was by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), which owns and operates Wellington’s world-renowned Winter Equestrian Festival, in Florida. It pulled out of the running in July 2012, citing political differences between the organisers and the town’s local village council.
Plans for the Games in Florida revolved around the building of a commercial equestrian complex, but local government councillors were worried over whether the town had the infrastructure to support such a major facility.
Morocco pulled out in October 2012, and Vienna, Austria withdrew in January.
This left many thinking Bromont – the site of the 1976 Olympic equestrian events – would be a shoe-in to host WEG 2018.
However, the FEI re-opened the bidding process on July 1, saying that the Canadian delegation to its bureau meeting was unable to provide the full public sector financial support that was required before an allocation could be made.
As a result, the Bureau re-opened the bidding process for 2018, but expressed the hope that Canada would confirm its decision to continue in the bidding process. The Bureau made it clear at the time that any follow-up bid from Canada would be evaluated in the same way as other applicants.
Great Britain will have to confirm its proposed host city with the FEI before the November 15 deadline for receipt of Bid Applicant Questionnaires, which will be reviewed by the Evaluation Commission at FEI Headquarters before the candidates are announced on December 2.
In the final stage of the bidding process, the Candidates will formally present their bids to the FEI Bureau at its spring 2014 meeting, after which the host city for the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 will be announced.
“The FEI World Equestrian Games is our flagship event, appealing to huge global audiences of equestrian enthusiasts and sports fans, and these expressions of interest by Great Britain and the USA alongside Canada are testament to the power of these Games,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar de Vos said.
“We are now looking forward to receiving the Bid Applicant Questionnaires next month, to naming the candidates in December and ultimately of course to announcing the host city for the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 next year.”