Westminster Dog Show's Return to New York City Postponed Due to Increase in COVID-19 Cases

The Westminster Kennel Club cited "the surge of the Omicron variant in New York City" behind its decision to move its famous dog show from January 2022 to an undetermined later date

Wasabi the Pekingese sits in the winners circle after winning Best in Show
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The 146thAnnual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina Pro Plan has been postponed.

On Wednesday, the Westminster Kennel Club announced that it is moving its 2022 dog show — initially slated for Saturday, January 22nd - Wednesday, January 26th — to a later, currently undetermined date due to a rise in N.Y.C. COVID-19 cases.

"Due to the surge of the Omicron variant in New York City, the Board of Governors of the Westminster Kennel Club has made the difficult decision to postpone the 146th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina Pro Plan to a later date in 2022," a statement obtained by PEOPLE from the Westminster Kennel Club reads.

"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 statement continues. "A new date will be announced when confirmed."

The Westminster Dog Show — America's second-longest continuously held sporting event — was set to return to New York City's Madison Square Garden for 2022 after a year away from the venue. For 2021, the famous canine competition was hosted at the Lyndhurst Estate, a property along the Hudson River, about 25 miles north of Manhattan, in Tarrytown, New York. The Westminster Kennel Club chose the new venue so the 2021 event, which had restricted attendance, could be hosted outdoors amid the pandemic.

The 2021 event, which was moved from winter to summer, marked the first time in over 100 years that the dog show was not held at Madison Square Garden. Wasabi the Pekingese won the coveted Best in Show title at last year's Westminster Dog Show.

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