Essential . What does this mean? Here is the Oxford dictionary definition of Essential.
1 Adjective: absolutely necessary; extremely important:
2. Noun: a thing that is absolutely necessary
But how does this definition apply during Covid? When Ontario went into a State of Emergency Lockdown big stores could only offer “essential” items for sale, all other areas had to be closed off. So groceries, pharmacy and cleaning supplies were available but big screen TVs were not.
That all seemed to make sense but how does the “essential” definition apply for travel to the USA? You cannot enter the US by car unless it is for an “essential” reason. Who decides what is essential and what is not? The officer you roll up to at the border is the person who holds the fate of your journey in their hands.
As of writing this post the Tokyo Olympics were still going ahead. For dressage riders the criteria requires that the horse and rider combinations compete at a CDI3*(Concours Dressage International) or higher. This requires 5 FEI level judges and the horse and rider must compete in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special. There must be one set of scores that is after April 1, 2021. In a normal year that would not be a problem but since Ontario is now in the Emergency Lockdown competitions have been cancelled. For riders who competed in Florida over the winter they will have their scores. But for those who did not go to Florida due to Covid concerns they do not have their scores. But there was a possible solution with a CDI4* in Tryon, North Carolina, April 22-25..
Megan Lane is a Canadian Dressage Olympian. She competed for Canada in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. I posted last year that she had decided to go to Florida for the winter competition season. But after considering the Covid situation in Florida she choose to stay at home. She decided to take advantage of the Tryon CDI4* to meet the Criteria for consideration for the Canadian Team for Tokyo. She set off together with her horse’s owners, her groom and two horses to the border. She had a letter from the head of High Performance at Equestrian Canada that stated that this was an essential trip due to the necessity of getting qualifying scores and she also had a permission letter from the US Equestrian Federation,
All the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted. But the best laid plans can sometimes go awry. The US official Megan appeared before at the US border did not see her trip as “essential”. There is no arguing with an immigration official. Megan had to turn around and drive home.
There will be no Olympic team consideration for Megan this year. Her trip was not considered “essential” enough. So I ask you again: Who decides what is “Essential”? I guess an athletes Olympic aspirations are not “essential” and the Oxford dictionary’s opinions are not held by some US border officials.
But to be honest, with Tokyo currently in a Covid lockdown, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.