The Event Director Tom Gordin was asked how the current Corona situation affects the top event.

How are the preparations for next autumn´s Horse Show proceeding with this extraordinary situation right now?

We focus to proceed as normal as possible, even though the coming months are challenging – for all of us. We do follow  intensively what’s going on in Finland and Europe, and of course the recommendations from the FEI. A great number of big events from the winter and coming spring have already been cancelled. Among those are Nations Cup´s and Global Champion Tour events. ”The Wimbledon of equestrian sport ” – Aachen is postponed and looking for a new date later in the season. Calgary cancelled many high level events in June. Many events look for new dates – it remains to be seen whether that’s possible or not.

How is the ticket sales for Helsinki going?

The sales figures of tickets have all winter been on a +30 % level, in comparison to last year, which already was our record year in ticket sales and visitors figures. Last week there was a clear stagnation, this week again a bit better. The coming months will indicate a lot. Fortunately we have 35 years of experience and comparison when it come to sales figures and trends. We follow-up online and are able to make quick moves. On the other hand, nobody has experience of this extraordinary period of time, especially on what will be the behavior of fans and clients.

Tom Gordin (left) and FEI President Ingmar de Vos in Helsinki 2019, photo Satu Pirinen

What is the position of the FEI?

FEI has established a Task Force on calendar issues, with leading stakeholders, riders, organisers invited. I know they are working intensively right now on gathering information and requests, then to come up with solutions for the various stakeholders. The FEI Board, upon recommendations from the Task Force and the technical committees (Jumping, Dressage etc), will ultimately decide.  We are facing really challenging times, and we can only hope there are solutions, good for everybody, or should I say, least bad for the most. Some kind of acceptable solutions and compromises we have to live with, and take a good aim at 2021. It looks like 2020 will go to history as the ”Annus horribilis”, to quote Queen Elisabeth in 1992.

What are the feelings among the international riders and organisers?

Of course I have a regular contact and communication with those stakeholders. Being the Board member of the Jumping Organisers (VP) we do have regular telephone conference calls on urgent matters. We should have organized our General Assembly one week ago in Lausanne, now we’re looking at a new date. Maybe we face an online video assembly this year – would function well also. Among the organisers there are various, not identical situations. Some main ones, like the WEL Longines FEI World Cup Jumping events, Leipzig, Bordeaux and Göteborg were normally organized, and could experience the full year without challenges. Some have already been cancelled, like the Las Vegas Final, and as I describe above, several others. Some look for new dates in 2020, which is challenging from the calendar point of view, autumn events are uncomfortable with the situation in total. The riders face a totally new situation with their home isolation – very far from competing 40 weekends a year. They like to go to the shows of course – but carry their responsibilities too – only when it´s safe.

The Helsinki event staff are now respecting social distancing working from home offices – how’s that?

Works fine, actually surprisingly well. Especially the video meetings are efficient, punctual and all present. Maybe this is the future of working; saves time, travelling and is ecological too.