The 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The club’s president, Chat Reynders, announced the postponement on Wednesday on the club’s website and social media.
The dog show was initially scheduled for January but will now be held later in 2022, according to the club. However, the club did not say when the event would be rescheduled for.
“The safety and wellbeing of all participants in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will always be our top priority,” Reynders said in a statement.
“Due to the extraordinary spread of the Omicron variant in New York City at this time and the disruptions it is currently creating in travel and event management, the Board of Governors of the Westminster Kennel Club has made the difficult decision to postpone our January 2022 show until a later date in 2022,” Reynders continued.
In a press release, the Westminster Kennel Club said: “The health and safety of all participants in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are paramount. We appreciate the community’s continued interest and support as we delay the show to a time when we can safely convene.”
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – which was first held in 1877 – attracts thousands of competitors from around the U.S. and is normally held in February, with semifinal and final rounds at Madison Square Garden, the Associated Press reported.
Last year, it was moved to June and held outdoors at the Lyndhurst estate in suburban Tarrytown, north of New York City. Spectators weren’t allowed, and human participants had to be vaccinated or newly tested.
A Pekingese named Wasabi won best in show, beating out a whippet, a French bulldog, an old English sheepdog, a German shorthaired pointer, a Samoyed and a West Highland white terrier.
With COVID-19 cases now exploding around the U.S., the postponement comes less than two weeks after more than 8,500 canines, owners and handlers converged for another top U.S. dog show, the American Kennel Club National Championship in Orlando, Florida.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.