Police Escort for Aachen Managing Director Frank Kemperman
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Aachen Managing Director Frank Kemperman arrived at the Putra Stadium from Kuala Lumpur International Airport accompanied by a police escort, complete with blue flashing lights, in order to arrive on time to chair a World Equestrian Games (WEG) press conference.
Kemperman was joined by Mr. Roland Grafe from the German Embassy in Kuala Lumpur who extended a warm welcome to all the attending journalists: "My presence here is purely ceremonial, but it is important that the German Embassy underline the importance of this World Equestrian Games in Aachen." Mr. Grafe also expressed his pleasure that the city of Kuala Lumpur was hosting the World Cup Show Jumping Final in such a wonderful facility as the Putra Stadium, and although he alluded to the fact that the spectator turn-out had so far been a little disappointing, he did imply that there was room for improvement in the overall development of equestrian events for the future.
In opening the WEG presentation, Frank Kemperman reminded everyone that the Aachen equestrian club was founded in 1898 and has enjoyed a long and successful history, including many World and European Championships, and that this year their annual CHIO will take place in May instead of July.
The inaugural World Equestrian Games took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990, moving to The Hague, Netherlands in 1994, Rome, Italy in 1998, and Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in 2002. Aachen will host the World Championships for all seven FEI equestrian disciplines: show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining. The 2006 World Equestrian Games is the most important sporting event taking place in Germany this year alongside the football (soccer) World Cup which begins in just a few weeks.
With 113 days to go to the opening ceremony of the 5th World Equestrian Games which begins on Sunday, August 20 and runs to Sunday, September 3, Frank Kemperman reported phenomenal success in terms of ticket sales, and intimated that the event could well be a 100% advance sell out in all disciplines. Aachen is anticipating spectator attendance to exceed 500,000 of which 150,000 will be foreign visitors. Kemperman also confirmed that around 1,000 journalists and 300 photographers had been accredited and will be accommodated in a brand new media center, that 40 countries will receive live television broadcasts, with 130 countries receiving recorded coverage. The 2006 World Equestrian Games will award 16 World Championship titles.
In order to facilitate the excessive demand for tickets, the dressage freestyle to music and the show jumping phase of the three-day event have now been moved to the main stadium - the former taking place under floodlights on the first Saturday evening, August 26. Kemperman confirmed that dressage riders will be afforded the opportunity to train and acclimatize their horses to competing under the lights in advance of the final round of competition.
The first day of the World Equestrian Games has been exclusively reserved for the 160-kilometer endurance race which will begin and end in the main stadium. A unique facet of this competition is that the course will run through three countries: Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The main vet gate will be situated in a small town called Vaals, at the confluence of three frontiers in the southeastern corner of the Netherlands.
With primary entries closing on Monday, May 1, Frank Kemperman was unable to confirm precise numbers, but said they were anticipating around 800 athletes representing some 55 participating countries.
Since they were awarded the World Equestrian Games in 2002, the Soers site, encompassing some 22 hectares (48 acres) of Aachen real estate, has undergone considerable construction and redevelopment, including new stabling and a veterinary facility. Of their 18 million euro budget (US$22.7 million), 10 million euros (US$12.7 million) came from federal and local funding. Kemperman said: "Many of you have been to previous World Equestrian Games and I can promise you that Aachen will be the first 'central' Games, with all seven disciplines within walking distance of the main stadium."
Similarly, the World Equestrian Games will overflow in terms of social and cultural activities into Aachen's town center which will host special events and parties every evening, and two weeks prior to the opening ceremony a special equestrian gala will take place underneath the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
With an operating budget estimated at 20 million euros, Kemperman said that the redeveloped site offered a facility for the future: "Various championships and World Equestrian Games in the past have spent a lot of money for one event. We are building a facility for the future that will provide for the good health of our annual CHIO events and we look forward to welcoming the world to Aachen in August."
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