The Global Champions Tour (LGCT) and Global Champions League (GCL) show jumping series have announced they will not hold any further events this year and will start their 2020 season afresh in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The health crisis had already caused the cancellation of LGCT events in Miami Beach, Shanghai, Stockholm and Monaco and now the organisers have decided the travel restrictions in various countries make it unfeasible to consider returning to action in the near future.
A statement on the LGCT website said: “In these exceptional circumstances it is not realistic to safely stage our global championship circuit this year. We must follow the laws of national Governments and public health authorities, which change regularly and at short notice, having a major impact on international planning.
“Restrictions on travel vary around the world, so not all riders will have the freedom to compete. There is also the risk of a second wave later this year, in the absence of a cure or vaccine, which further complicates logistical planning.”
LGCT and GCL president, Jan Tops, said of the plans to start the season afresh next year: “We sincerely thank our event organising partners, our Title Partner Longines, the GCL team owners and our partners around the world for their tremendous support and understanding. None of us could have foreseen the scale of this global emergency and the suffering so many people are going through.
“Our priority must continue to be the health and safety of our fans, our staff, the athletes and their teams and those living in the locations of our events. So it is with great regret we have decided to cancel the remaining shows this year.
“Now we must all pull together to build a positive future after the pandemic, adapting and adjusting to deliver incredible sport in 2021 and beyond.”
However, the LGCT revealed it could still hold several shows behind closed doors at a permanent facility in Valkenswaard in the Netherlands by implementing strict safety policies and provided the Dutch government permits them.
Earlier in the month it was revealed that Tops’ co-founder of the GCL, Marseille and former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, had succeeded in selling his 50-per-cent stake in the equestrian series and GCL to global investment holding company Tennor for €169m ($185m).
Tennor, which was founded by German entrepreneur Lars Windhorst, had tried to back away from the agreement after a number of GCT events were cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. But it was then announced McCourt Global and the Tennor Group reached an “amicable outcome” to sell the stake.
At the time of the sale, Tops said: “I am happy to confirm agreement has been reached for our new partnership. Our business is in good shape and strong as it has always been, pandemic notwithstanding, and all team owners and other key stakeholders are fully committed. We will continue to build on our innovation roadmap and the global success of our circuit. We will go forwards not backwards.”
Neil Moffitt, owner of the London Knights team which won the GCL championship two years’ running in 2018 and 2019, welcomed the decision to restart the 2020 season next year: “As a Founding GCL Team Owner this is the right decision as it is more important to maintain the integrity and quality of the League than to try to stage a few shows this year in this extremely challenging and uncertain environment.
“GCL is not a one-off event, it is a prestigious Championship with knock-out stages like the Champions League in Europe. We look forward to continuing our successful campaign in the seasons ahead.”