The FEI is “confident” horses will be able to travel to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games, despite concerns regarding quarantine.
Fears have been circulating that the equestrian events might have to take place outside the host country after it was revealed on Wednesday (7 October) that the equine health certificate needed by Brazil still hadn’t been finalised.
“If the problem is not resolved by the end of the month, we run the risk of not having the event in Brazil,” said Luiz Roberto Giugni of the Brazil Equestrian Federation. “We are running late.”
This is due to strict quarantine laws involving travelling horses from Europe, the US and Canada.
However, FEI president Ingmar De Vos said he expected the certificate to be issued “very soon”.
“We have been working for some time with Rio 2016, the Brazilian and Rio Authorities and the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture to get the Veterinary Certificate and Protocol approved that will define the conditions for importation and exportation of the horses that will compete at the Rio Olympic Games,” Ingmar added.
“The process of approval of the equine health certificate by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has already taken a lot of time and is still not finalised.
“This has an important impact as it delays the planning and preparation of the horses that will take part in the Games.
“The president of the Brazilian Equestrian National Federation, Luiz Robert Giugni has supported during these negotiations and we appreciate that in his efforts to help the equestrian community he is applying all possible pressure to achieve this.
“We have had further discussions earlier this week and I expect the Ministry of Agriculture to issue this certificate very soon so that we can carry on with preparations for the Olympic Games and that the biosecurity protocols will ensure the safe import and export of the Olympic horses.
“Therefore we are confident that our horses will be allowed to travel back and forth to Rio to participate in 2016 Olympic Games together with all the other Olympic sports. We are looking forward to very successful Olympic equestrian events in Deodoro next year.”
In August a surprise glanders scare at the Deodoro Olympic horse park in Rio, which organisers kept under wraps for several months, caused concern within the equestrian industry.
The Brazilian government has been criticised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) chief Dr Bernard Vallat for not being “more transparent about the situation”.
There was no suggestion at the time the events might have to be moved.
“Glanders remains a globally important disease which is a continuing threat to the horse industry and is the subject of international disease surveillance,” Professor Josh Slater of the Royal Veterinary College told H&H at the time.
“The disease has been eradicated from Europe but does occur in other parts of the world and the outbreak in Brazil is a reminder of the need for constant surveillance and vigilance.
“Horses moving to Rio for competition will do so under the highest health conditions as a result of extensive preparations by OIE, FEI and the local organisers to create an equine disease-free zone around the venue to safeguard the health of horses while at the Games.”
Olympic test event
However, the Rio Olympic site received a thumbs up following the test event this summer (6-10 August).
A team of British observers attended the CIC2* event including eventing chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner and British Equestrian Federation (BEF) performance director Dan Hughes, who said “initial impressions are good”.
“The venue itself is impressive — it is a good size, well laid out, yet has a feeling of space,” said Dan.
“The stables, training arenas, vet clinic, storage areas, grooms accommodation and other functional areas are all within easy reach.”
He added that it was not yet all in place but that the venue “works”.