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Rhinopneumonitis: The FEI communicated about international competitions

02 March 2021Author : Lea Tchilinguirian

While some organizers had taken the lead in canceling their own competitions, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) issued a press release late yesterday evening announcing the cancellation of European events in 10 countries, across all disciplines, with immediate effect until March 28th. This decision was taken following the rapid development of a very aggressive strain of the neurological form of rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1), which originated at CES Valencia, and has already created outbreaks in at least three other European countries. This cancellation concerns the following countries: France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Slovakia. In accordance with Article 112.3 of the FEI General Regulations, the Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.

However, in order to ensure that a large number of horses do not simultaneously leave the show jumping tours on the Iberian Peninsula, as well as competitions in Italy and Belgium which have been ongoing for several weeks; these competitions will specifically be allowed to continue as individual "bubbles" provided that absolutely no new horses are allowed to enter the premises and that no positive cases of EHV-1 are confirmed. The Sunshine Tour venues of Vejer de la Frontera, Vilamoura in Portugal, San Giovanni in Marignano and Gorla Minore in Italy will be subject to strict protocols and additional FEI veterinary delegates will be present on site. Horses will only be allowed to leave these sites with an official health certificate issued by the local veterinary authorities. Any horse leaving these premises without this document will be blocked in the FEI database. It is also illegal to transport a horse without an official health certificate.

"It wasn’t an easy decision to block events in continental Europe, especially after the major disruption to the FEI calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but this EHV-1 epidemic is probably the most serious we have seen in Europe for decades and our decision is based on clearly identified epidemiological risk factors," said FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez. Also, the FEI is well aware that some horses have left the CES Valencia event without an official certificate, "which means that their health status was unknown. Some horses were already sick, and the risk of transmission from these horses is a major concern." To date, only France has canceled all of its national competitions for one month. "We strongly recommend that the member federations concerned cancel their national events also."

Photo credit: illustrating image / Sportfot.com

AuthorLea Tchilinguirian