Thousands of athletes are arriving in Tokyo, including 325 Olympic horses, who will compete in both Olympic and Paralympic events . The first 35 horses to arrive are those competing in Dressage which landed in Tokyo today, flying from Belgium to Tokyo via Dubai (for refueling). The flight took 18 hours and cost about $15,000 per horse. Although the Haneda airport is well versed in handling human travelers, it is the first time the airport has handled equine cargo. Nothing like starting with such specialized and valuable horses!
Like humans, every horse that competes in FEI events needs a passport which details their markings. Unlike humans, those horses are also microchipped. This year, quarantine and health are of particular issues for both horses and riders: not only is COVID a concern for the riders, but there have been problems with the equine herpes virus attacking horses. To make sure the horses are healthy, they underwent a 60-day health surveillance and a 7-day quarantine.
The 22 American horses that are competing in Tokyo first went from New York or Miami to Europe. The horses flew “business class” with only two horses per stall (rather than three), at a cost of about 12,500 each. The flights are kitted out with enough food to feed the horses for a month and veterinarians and grooms are on hand to care for them. The American horses had a week long layover in Europe before shipping to Tokyo.
All reports are that the horses traveled well. The only rider to accompany their horse on the flight was Isabell Werth, who always flies with her mounts.