FEI Issues “Return to Play” Policy to Deal with Covid-19 Beginning July 1

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland, May 29, 2020–The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) on Friday published a “return to play policy” for international equestrian events beginning July 1 to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic the organization predicts will last “at least 12 to 24 months.”

The FEI, the governing body of international horse sports dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para equestrian, issued the policy to deal with what it described as “new normal.”

More than 900 international horse shows have been canceled so far this year, out of about 1,730 on the FEI calendar. The Olympics have been pushed back a year to 2021, the World Cup Final in Las Vegas and other championships were canceled outright. The impact will be felt into 2021 as the change of the Olympics has led to cancellation of the European Championships of dressage and jumping set for 2021.

“It is mandatory for FEI event organizers to conduct the risk assessment together with their national federation and domestic government and public health authorities,” the FEI said. “Events for which the FEI has not received the completed risk assessment and mitigation measures plan will be removed from the FEI calendar.”

The policy, that in many respects mirrors that of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, will apply to all FEI Events as of July 1 “and has been put in place to limit the risk of transmission and further spread of Covid-19 until an effective treatment and/or vaccine as determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) are available.”

It was developed by FEI Medical Committee Chair Dr. Mark Hart of the U.S. together with the FEI. The policy requires national federations and organizers to carry out a risk assessment to evaluate whether it is safe to hold their events.

“The policy includes general best practice recommendations for organizers and is to be implemented in conjunction with any requirements imposed by the domestic authorities,” it said.

Discipline-specific guidance will be issued shortly by the FEI.

National level competitions have already resumed in some countries with more doing so beginning June 1.

“Covid-19 has caused massive disruption to the FEI calendar and to national events, with a huge impact on all the various participants of equestrian sports,” Mark Hart said. “We are all in this together and this pandemic will be with us for at least 12-24 months. We need to adapt to a ‘new normal’ as we move forward.

“The FEI is committed to assisting national federations and FEI event organizers by providing resources to effectively assess the risks potentially posed by events from the planning phase and mitigate such risks through relevant measures.

“As we anticipate the gradual return of competitions, we must do everything we can to mitigate the risk of transmission and further spread of Covid-19. This is a matter of public health, and it’s also how a sport can demonstrate to public authorities that it is ready to resume activity.”