First and foremost, I hope you are all well and that you and your loved ones are safe.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the associated uncertainty these past weeks, and soon to be months, has been extremely difficult for everyone, both personally and professionally. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis that is affecting every industry and community around the world and there are many questions that remain unanswered. However, the one certainty we do have is that the sacrifices we have all been called upon to make will save lives, and this is our collectively duty at this point in time.
For athletes, this is a particularly challenging situation as many of you are unable to compete, to train or effectively do your job in the same way as those of us that have moved our offices into our homes. Our sport is all-consuming and on top of the event and training related disruptions and complications, you also have businesses to run, horses to take care of and staff to protect. Without events, clinics and all the related outlets for equestrian sport and training, you not only have to revisit your objectives and your goals for the year but you also have to find a way to safeguard your network, your members of staff and support teams.
This is not easy, especially as we do not have the clarity we wish we all had going forward, and we completely understand your frustration which, regrettably, is shared by athletes around the world and across all sports. For our Para athletes, there is also the added challenge when it comes to any form of training and social distancing guidelines, as it may simply not be possible for some athletes to train or have access to training depending on the level of assistance and support needed.
And, of course, we’re all conscious of the fact that our sport differs from all other sports as it involves an animal and you can’t put a horse into a cupboard or away in the garage like you could a tennis racket or golf club when the sport is in lockdown. And that horses, like humans, get bored and bad tempered when their training and competition schedule is disrupted.
All these repercussions are the added complications that make the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic widespread and multifaceted. I want you to know that we are very aware of the effects on all our community, and as you will have seen, we are working around the clock to ensure that we find efficient and fair solutions to try and overcome this major disruption to the FEI Calendar, and all the associated repercussions this has on the sport.
The Task Forces we created in each of the FEI disciplines have started to meet (virtually) and are proactively and decisively setting out their action plans. Among the first decisions to be made was in relation to the world Rankings, and this week the Board approved a number of FEI Calendar related Resolutions so that we can have greater flexibility for date applications and modifications in order to facilitate Organisers when it comes to rescheduling events. And we will continue to tackle each and every issues in a timely way in order to reduce the impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on equestrian sport and all our community.
In addition, your reach as an Athlete is not limited to the FEI Family. The Chair of your Athlete Committee, Maria Gretzer, was part of an IOC Athletes’ Commission conference call with the IOC President at the beginning of the month following the rescheduling of Tokyo 2020. President Bach and IOC Directors were on the call to answer questions about qualification systems, heat mitigation, Olympic Solidarity, anti-doping and more.
We are very much an industry and a global family and there are millions of lives and livelihoods at stake. Our responsibilities in relation to this pandemic is greater than our sport, but it does not have to define our sport. We can and we must ensure that we all work together, that we find solutions, and that we agree on the compromises because not everything will be perfect, but we have to work for the greater good of our sport and ensure that when things do get back to normal, we are united and ready to bounce back.
As athletes, you are known for your resilience and your perseverance, and I hope in these terrible times you are using that strength as well as your determination to come out of this situation stronger than before. I have seen some wonderful acts of generosity and solidarity within the community, and many individuals giving their time and their energy to helping others. This is what our community has always been about, and it will serve us well in this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us should you have any questions, queries or even recommendations about how we can help you.
There is a lot of information being sent around these days, so here are some of the key links for the latest news items that may be of interest to you:
FEI Resolutions regarding FEI Events and Series
FEI Resolutions regarding Financial Measures
Approvals process for Calendar Task Force proposals and Clarification regarding Online Competitions
FEI Board approves Jumping Calendar Task Force resolutions
FEI creates new policy for calculating world rankings during Covid-19 outbreak
New dates for Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games
IOC Athlete 365 – Coronavirus Updates
IPC Weekly Update for Athletes
As you will have seen, we have a comprehensive Covid-19 section on our website with all the latest News, the Resolutions that have been taken in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, the composition of all the Calendar Task Forces and their scheduled meetings and recommendations to the FEI Board, as well as a comprehensive FAQ. Our aim is to be as transparent and communicative on all the issues and the solutions that we are finding, so that you have all the information at your fingertips and can make informed decisions based on the daily evolution of this pandemic and the effects it is having on our sport.
And last but not least, I invite you to visit our new “Athlete Toolkit” which we launched a few weeks ago, and regroups all the information relevant to athletes from a sporting perspective as well as tips for building your social profile, sponsorship opportunities, etc.
Thank you for your time and once again, please do not hesitate to contact the FEI, we are here for you and we continue to provide all our stakeholders with a professional and proactive service, fully committed to our remit and the future of the sport. How we tackle every day, and how we find solutions together will help offset some of the costs for our community. This sense of solidarity and this dedication is not only our remit and our mission, it is what defines our sport and the FEI Family.
With kind regards and take care,
Ingmar De Vos