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Cuckson Report | May 27, 2016
by Pippa Cuckson
In a long career you can’t remember every news story you ever wrote. However, one from the early 1990s sticks in my mind because it involved a conversation with Jacques Chirac, and it’s not often that a humble equestrian journalist gets her call put through to one of the most famous statesmen of his generation.
At the time M Chirac was the long-standing mayor of Paris. The reason I telephoned his office was because Paris had been awarded hosting rights for the 1994 World Equestrian Games, yet everything had gone awfully quiet aside from growing rumour there was no financial backing after all from the French capital….
Anyway, the gist is that when I explained I was asking about the Jeux Mondiales Equestre his immediate reaction was “what JEM?” Not only was M Chirac unaware of the notion of a WEG, JEM or anything else answering to that description, he was even more surprised to learn this enormous spectacle, at a time of year when Paris is already chock full of tourists, was supposedly being staged on his patch in three years’ time.
I can’t remember without looking it up exactly how the French bid unravelled thereafter, but 1994 ended up in The Hague, and I am pretty sure that if The Hague had been the first ever WEG the concept would have been trashed straight away.
Anyway, I had a strange sense of déjà vu reading recent coverage of the resignations of the five senior members of the Bromont JEM organising committee. A number of media had some of the departees blaming federal government for not coming up with an expected $8-9 million funding, claiming this in turn caused a loss of confidence in any other potential investors.
No one, though, seemed to have got the federal government’s point of view. It now seems neither Bromont, nor the FEI definitely said there was confirmed support from Ottawa at the time of the bid, but there is certainly an inference it had been promised soon after. So had Ottawa reneged on any deal? And if not, what might they have said to Bromont that could possibly have been interpreted as even a gesture of moral support?...
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