The Swiss Equestrian Federation has withdrawn their dressage team from the Hong Kong Olympic Games (9-21 August).
This followed the withdrawal of their top rider, Silvia Iklé, who cited the humidity, distance and time difference of Hong Kong as reasons not to take her 14-year-old gelding Salieri CH to the games. Nor would she allow her second horse, Romario, ridden by teammate Veronika Marthaler, to compete.
Iklé said: “Participating in Hong Kong would place extraordinary stresses and strains, exertions I do not wish to impose upon my horses.”
Dr Chris Riggs, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s head of veterinary clinical services responded to these concerns, saying: “We are confident that effective strategies will be in place to minimise the consequences of these prevailing conditions on the health and welfare of horses.”
The Swiss Equestrian Federation (FN SUI) pointed out that, since without Silvia they would not have qualified for the Olympics at the Europeans last August, their Olympic team would be weak without her.
The Swiss team trainer Jurgen Koschel (GER) thought the federation’s decision was “against the Olympic spirit” and has resigned.