More Than 300 Horses Were Transported to Tokyo for the Olympic Games 2020 — but How?

How do horses travel to the Olympics? Around 325 horses had to be sent to Tokyo in 2021 for the big event. Here's what you should know.

Leila Kozma - Author

Jul. 20 2021, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

Source: Getty Images

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are scheduled to begin on Friday, July 23, 2021. The feverishly anticipated event poses a significant logistical challenge for every contestant, and their four-legged teammates are no different.

Around 325 horses had to be transported to the Olympic Games in an international effort coordinated by Peden Bloodstock, a leading horse transportation and logistics firm. But how did the horses travel to Tokyo? Here's what you should know.

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Around 325 horses had to travel to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Around 325 horses had to travel to Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games for the slate of equestrian events (that will include an appearance from Jessica Springsteen).

A 60-day health surveillance period, a seven-day pre-transportation quarantine, and up-to-date paperwork (i.e., passports showing the vaccines they received, where they were born, and other details) were just some of the requisites they all had to meet.

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It's understood that 247 horses were flown over for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 through Belgium. An additional 78 horses are set to partake in the 2020 Summer Paralympics, which begins on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

The majority of the equine passengers traveled to Japan via Liège, Belgium, a city that boasts a hotel specifically designed for horses.

According to Insider, after 60 days of health monitoring and a seven-day quarantine in Belgium, the horses had to board an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F, a cargo aircraft large enough to carry the specifically designed stalls alongside equipment, feed, water, and other equally heavy items.

Eventing horses weigh around 1,150 pounds, per Reuters. Dressage horses tend to be slightly heavier, weighing approximately 1,400 pounds.

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Footage by FEI
Source: YouTube/FEI

The inside of an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F

Fifty-nine grooms were assigned the mighty task of taking care of the horses during the lengthy and tiring journey. Veterinarians were also on board.

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"Horses are very, very workman-like. You can put them on a flight or in trucks. Some horses travel easier than others. Some don't like it, but there are ways of working around that and getting them comfortable to it," Fouaad Mirza, an award-winning equestrian competing in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, told Firstpost in 2020. "Flying horses is very expensive. They're heavy and large animals, and they need a lot of care, especially on flights."

Source: TikTok
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There were a total of eight charter flights carrying 131 stalls. Each stall accommodates two horses. According to Simple Flying, the journey from Liège, Belgium, to Tokyo spans 5,868 miles.

According to Air Cargo News, however, the charter flights likely had to stop for a brief layover in Dubai before reaching the Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

The first 36 horses arrived at the Haneda Airport in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 15, 2021. They were then transported further via 11 air-conditioned trucks.

"To see these horses arriving at Haneda Airport is a truly historic occasion, and what makes it even more special is that these are not simply horses, they are Olympic horses," Takahashi Koji, the administrator of Tokyo International Airport, said, per The Chronicle of the Horse. "It's a really big night for the airport, and particularly for the cargo team, and we see it as one of the major milestones of the final countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

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