(Birmingham) Tens of thousands of dog lovers are expected from Thursday in England for Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, back after the pandemic and Brexit, but without Russian participants, banned due to the invasion of Ukraine.
If the coronavirus had already marked the 2020 edition and led to the cancellation of the show last year, this time it was the war in Ukraine which interfered in the organization of the largest dog show in the world.
For this competition, a real institution in the United Kingdom, more than 20,000 dogs are expected in Birmingham, in central England, where they will compete until Sunday in multiple beauty, agility and dressage contests.
But “condemning the invasion of Ukraine” at the end of February, the Kennel Club, organizer of the event, decided “not to allow participants from Russia to compete”. Around 30 owners and breeders and 51 Russian dogs were initially scheduled to participate.
“Our friends in Ukraine and their dogs fear for their lives and we will do everything we can to support them,” said organizers, who announced a 50,000 pound ($84,000) donation to a canine charity for “to help breeders, owners and dogs in desperate need” in Ukraine and Poland in particular.
The Kennel Club, which has federations in many countries, has also banned canine judges licensed in Russia or Belarus from participating in the competitions it organizes around the world.
If the Crufts had attracted some 150,000 visitors in 2020, the organizers expect this year to see a drop in participation.
“After several years in the dark, we had anticipated a drop in the number of participants, due to both the (regulatory) changes for pet travel after Brexit and the consequences of the pandemic, with many people, especially from abroad, unable to travel or plan a trip,” they told AFP.
This year, 16,000 dogs from 38 countries are in the running for the prestigious title of ” Best in show (best dog in the show). Among them, nearly 1,800 come from abroad, much less than two years ago, when more than 3,000 foreign dogs took part in the various events.
As a result of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, European tourists must since October 2021 present a valid passport to travel across the Channel, whereas a simple identity card was previously sufficient, and their pets are subject to to strict vaccination and identification rules.