THE KENNEL Club has confirmed that it is to cancel this yearâs Crufts, putting weeks of speculation about whether it would be able to go ahead to an end.
Unless you have been somewhere in outer space, or marooned on a tanker in the Suez Canal, by now you will have heard that the Kennel Club has cancelled Crufts.
It had originally postponed the show from its normal March date, to take place instead from 15 â 18 July, in the hope that things would then allow the event to go ahead. Sadly, that was not to be, and the Coronavirus pandemic has made the show unfeasible.
This is the first cancellation of Crufts since 1954 when a strike of electricians at Olympia caused the show to be called off. On that occasion the strikers had refused to dismantle the preceding shows there - the Hotel and Catering Exhibition and Bertram Mills Circus. The 2001 show had to be postponed to May of that year because of a foot and mouth disease outbreak. In 1952 the event only managed to happen by the skin of its teeth, when the death of George Vl was announced on February 6th that year. Crufts was due to be held on Friday and Saturday February 8th and 9th and was able to go ahead despite the fact that theatre performances and such were cancelled for one night on February 8th. The show was permitted to happen mainly because the Kingâs âLying in Stateâ didnât begin until Monday 11th February.
This year the cancellation of the show was announced in a very helpful and informative way with the KC expressing its âdeep regretâ.
The KC said that it was cancelling: âOwing to ongoing uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in consideration for the health and safety of all its volunteers, judges, exhibitors, sponsors, trade stand holders, visitors and staffâ.
It has emerged that for many months, discussions have been taking place with the NEC and other parties to try to find a way forward in making it possible to run this yearâs show in a Covid-secure way.
The KC has said: âThe opening up of events in general, especially those that take place inside, is still unclear and the Kennel Clubâs priority must be the health and safety of all those mentioned above.â It added that it: âalso recognised that clarity was required now to mitigate any commitments that all our potential participants may undertakeâ.
The KCâs announcement referred to its recent survey (also launched through OUR DOGS at the time) asking for opinions from those in the canine world on returning to events. It said that although it had been very reassuring to see that 60% would like to get back to their dog activities as soon as it was safe to do so, but it also noted however that 63% did not feel comfortable or were unsure about attending an inside event in the near future.
Tom Mather, Crufts Chairman, said: âWe are very disappointed that we have had to cancel Crufts for the first time since 1954, in what would have been its 130th anniversary year, and it is a decision we have not taken lightly.
âWe have tried desperately hard to make this yearâs show happen, including the decision we took last November to postpone the event to July. However, of course this was before we were hit by the devastating second wave of the pandemic.
âWhen this decision was taken, we were optimistic that the situation would be such that the show could be held. However we appreciated that there was a possibility that holding the show in the summer under certain restrictions could also, in some respects, do the show a disservice. We were disappointed that, even though we carried over the qualification from 2020, we would still be limited on our entry numbers and wouldnât be able to welcome as many dogs back as we would have liked.
âIt would also be regrettable that there was a strong possibility that many of the popular events and features of the show, such as obedience, the Good Citizen Dog Scheme, Young Kennel Club ring and Discover Dogs, would not have been able to be included under the restrictions which could be imposed.
âFinally, in light of recent announcements and the emergence of a third wave of coronavirus in Europe, it was looking extremely unlikely that both our overseas judges and exhibitors would be able to attend.â
The KC has confirmed that further discussions will be taking place about the impact of the cancellation of Crufts over the next couple of months, such as the qualification criteria for Crufts 2022 for all disciplines, including for the Young Kennel Club.
The Kennel Club says that it appreciates that judges from this yearâs show will be very disappointed, that the committee will be looking at the options to invite them to judge at a future Crufts and will be making further announcements in due course. Some judges have however commented that in many ways they are relieved as they would not really have enjoyed judging what was almost bound to be a reduced entry and in circumstances which will still be far from normal.
The KC concluded by saying that it; âWould like to take this opportunity to thank the shows who were willing to partner with Crufts due to the clash of dates when Crufts was moved to July and also all the other shows and canine events that had been affected by the date change. We would also like to thank the NEC, its sponsors and Channel 4, for the understanding that everyone has shown. It is very much appreciatedâ.
Meantime the KC says that it will continue to provide any assistance it can with shows and events this year, and will try to ensure canine activities get up and running in the safest possible way. It looks forward to: âwelcoming everyone back to Crufts next year in its full glory from 10 - 13 March 2022â.
For OUR DOGS comments see our opinion column on page eight of this weekâs issue and WHAT YOU SAID on page four.