Sally Corscadden breathed a deep sigh of relief when she heard the IOC announcement regarding Olympic postponement.
Corscadden, the eventing high-performance director at Horse Sport Ireland, had been tying herself up in knots in recent days and weeks as the job of getting four horses and the accompanying Irish eventing team of 15 people to Japan in mid-July became more and more complicated.
The initial plan had been to fly the horses to Aachen in Germany for a week of quarantine, during which they would be assessed by a Japanese ministry vet; from there, the horses and Irish team were to cross the border into Belgium where they would fly from Liège to Tokyo, with a quick refuel in Doha to break up the 18-hour flight.
But as Covid-19 stretched its tentacles throughout Europe, Corscadden quickly accepted that their planned route was no longer feasible.
“I was thinking to myself, would we all have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arriving in Aachen in Germany. But how would we manage that, or even social distancing, when we were all staying in the same apartments in Aachen.
“I was then looking at doing the week-long quarantine in the UK but then the situation developed there. Each day it became more and more unlikely of getting everyone to Japan as I just couldn’t see how this could work. I was running out of alternatives as to how we were going to make it happen.
“It was becoming impossible so, yes, relief was the overriding emotion when news of postponement came.”
With the Olympics pushed back until 2021, Corscadden has instructed the Irish riders, who will compete over three disciplines (showjumping, dressage, and cross-country) at the rescheduled Games, to press pause for the time being.
Priority, at a time of such uncertainty, must shift elsewhere.
“They’ve got to look at their businesses and families first of all, and all the things they’ve got to do to survive the next few months because [Covid-19] is obviously going to hit them very hard financially. They can’t train other horses, can’t train riders, and can’t go to competitions. All these sources of income are now gone. Everything has come to a standstill.”
Whenever normality resumes, Corscadden will use whatever qualifying competitions are staged as an opportunity to qualify some younger horses who may benefit from the postponement.