The World Equestrian Games are almost over. Today we are looking at the marathon of the drivers, who have a shortened round and therefore can evade climbing the hill the eventing riders feared. Having a look at the heat this decision certainly was a good one. The para riders still have their individual competitions just as the vaulters. There is still enough going on during this second week of the WEG.
But the construction site has become smaller. Not everything is finished- the bathrooms in the press center still cannot be used – but there are enough alternatives – and the notebooks still have to be cleaned of dust every few hours. But the muddy parts in front of the press center were flattened and tarred. It is hard to believe it looked very different a week ago. Indeed, Mark Bellissimo has achieved something. The founder of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, who owns a number of businesses, visited the journalists for a q&a-session and declared that realizing the project WEG in only 18 months had been a huge challenge especially with the accommodations for the grooms, with the canceled Freestyle and with the endurance competition. He said they had made many mistakes, for which he was sorry and which all were his responsibility. Bellissimo gave the impression of an approachable man, whom one can talk to and who does not want to cover up the misgivings, who does not want to seek excuses but instead own up to the mistakes. At the same time he tried not to put the focus on the negative things but also on the positive instead. Of course the bathrooms were not ready and things went wrong, but the main part of the event could take place as it had been planned. They had done their best. It was not perfect, they only were human, but they had kept the WEG alive. That is true. And the Equestrian Center gave many people in the region a job, which they appreciated.
Bellissimo has invested between 200 and 250 million US dollars in the Equestrian Center. He was not able to say exactly how big the sum was. Perhaps it does not even matter to him. Money does not seem to play a role. The operating budget for the WEG was only 30 million dollars, so Bellissimo. And that might mean a break even. It is a case of how the sums are calculated but in the end it does not matter for Tryon. Here events will take place in the future, the equestrian world has another center – Bellissimo talked about a whole town- just as he already built in Wellington. And there the money keeps coming in.
The question is if he will host the WEG again. He asked to let him sleep over the decision at least until Monday or Tuesday. Then he would talk to his team about it. His vision: WEG rotating between two, three or four regular organizers. One of them should be in Europe. However, for years the reactions from Europe were rather restrained.So it is not yet clear if tomorrow will bring a historical end or if we will be packing our bags again in four years time.