As many of you know, I am on my way to the pristine, EU-resistant soil of Switzerland to attend the 2013 FEI General Assembly this week. If there is any single session of the three day talk-fest of especial relevance to Canada and to people in other countries of the Americas who have been in touch with me recently regarding that very topic, it’s tomorrow’s session on the Olympic qualifications for Rio. I’m afraid I have bad news, folks. Today at 6:12 am Pacific Time (3:12 pm Swiss time), I received an email from the FEI. Here is what that email said:
“Dear members of the media,
Following discussions today, the Bureau has agreed that tomorrow’s Olympic and Paralympic qualification system session will not be open to the media as it is a working session for the National Federations.
For any media who were planning to attend the session, we apologise for the inconvenience and would like to invite you to join the FEI Solidarity Team for a glass of champagne at the FEI Solidarity stand in the exhibition area of the Montreux Music and Convention Centre 2m2c from 16.00 onwards.”
Sorry for the inconvenience. That’s rich. Last week I was in Holland for the Global Dressage Forum . I then returned to North America for a freestyle clinic that I had committed to many months ago, long before the FEI GA became a must-do event for me. I’m currently sitting at Toronto airport, nearly two weeks into a three week trip away from home, waiting to board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and a (tight – please bag, make it) connection to Geneva. The decision to attend the FEI GA was one not taken lightly, especially for the pocket book. Perhaps the FEI thinks that journalism is an extremely lucrative enterprise. It’s not, for me, or for the publisher of the magazine that funds this blog. The publisher and I made a decision together that I should not miss the FEI GA this year, and the Olympic qualifications were a significant part of that decision. The publisher has footed no small part of my travel bill to get there.
Here is my response to today’s bomb, dropped ever so casually, when it was far too late to cancel my trip:
Dear members of the FEI Bureau: lest you be of the mistaken belief that journalists like me crave endless hours spent traveling to events only to found ourselves shut out of them 24 hours before they are to take place, here is a short list of things I could be doing tomorrow instead of sitting in an expensive room in Montreux, twiddling my thumbs:
1. Riding my horse, Theo. Or giving him a carrot. Or kissing him on his sweet little nose.
2. Walking my dog, my wing-man, my best buddy, Chorizo.
3. Just hangin’ with my husband Jan, most likely also in the company of Chorizo and possibly Theo, and maybe even a friend or two as well.
4. Cooking up a storm (in case you didn’t know, FEI Bureau, I love to cook) on the super-duper awesome antique stove that the above-mentioned husband restored for me at our cabin on an island, far from the madding FEI crowds.
5. Making a trip to Vancouver Island to visit my mom, who still knows who I am but who won’t for much longer, because she has steadily advancing Alzheimer’s.
6. Just spending some happy times with my friends and having a ‘normal’ life.
Yes, members of the FEI Bureau, I am more than a little bit dissatisfied to learn that you have made an 11th hour decision to turn what you ADVERTISED as a meeting open to the media into a closed one. Here is a question for you, one which I will be asking at the first opportunity in Montreux: what material change could possibly have presented itself at this late date to make you decide you must exclude the media? How is it possible that someone suddenly smacked his or her forehead and said ‘by gum! We can’t let the media into this! It’s a working session for the National Federations, for heaven’s sake!’ Or were Trond’s stories of my on-the-spot-putting last week in Holland that scary?
I hope that by now, FEI Bureau members, you have some understanding of the fact that, for me, the world does not revolve around you and the edicts you so imperially pass down upon the equestrian sporting world. There are many things that I lose sleep over, but your decision to punish countries like Canada and Mexico just because the next Olympics are in Rio is not one of them. However, in order to feel that our days have some meaning, something to separate ourselves from sheep grazing around the turds of their compatriots in a field, most of us find social issues with which to concern ourselves. We all find our own ways to best act in support of the things that we think matter. In my case, it’s writing magazine articles and blogs in the equestrian realm, so that people can form their own opinions, and so that those opinions are as enlightened as I can make them.
I did not intend to sit in on tomorrow’s Olympic qualification session for any other reason than to learn, and then to re-convey. Thanks to your decision, FEI Bureau members, I will not have that opportunity. Instead, I will rustle around like the muck raker I am, and do my best to glean the inevitably inaccurate renderings that come from second and third hand reports. If I make any mistakes in my articles on this topic, please don’t cast any stones at me before asking yourselves if it would have been better to just let me, and any other members of the media who had planned to attend, into the meeting.
Thanks for nothing. I’ll make it up to you.