Russian and Belarusian riders, horses and officials to be banned from international horse sport ‘until further notice’

  • Russian and Belarusian riders, horses and officials will be banned from taking part in international equestrian competitions – including under a neutral flag.

    The FEI board decision comes as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, and the ban will start from midnight (central European time) on Sunday (6 March). The news follows the decision on Monday (28 February) to remove all international events in Russia and Belarus from the FEI calendar.

    “It is regrettable that the FEI has needed to take such severe measures, but we need to ensure the safety, integrity and fairness of FEI competitions during these difficult times,” FEI president Ingmar De Vos said.

    “We sincerely hope that a peaceful solution can be found as soon as possible.”

    The FEI board has condemned the invasion of Ukraine and the support provided by the government of Belarus.

    The ban is in place “until further notice” and also excludes the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes, horses and officials participating in FEI events under the FEI flag and/or in a neutral capacity.

    “The prohibition comes into effect as of midnight CET on Sunday, 6 March 2022 so FEI events already in progress, or about to start, are not unduly disrupted,” said an FEI spokesman.

    “The resolution also prohibits, with immediate effect, the display of Russian and Belarusian flags, or their anthems played at, or in connection with, any FEI events.”

    ‘We must all take our place’

    On Monday, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board recommended that international sports federations and sports event organisers do not allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to participate in international competitions. The final decision was left to the international federation for each sport.

    The IOC also maintained its “urgent recommendation”, from 25 February, not to hold any sports events in Russia or Belarus.

    On Sunday (27 February), British Equestrian (BEF) chairman Malcolm Wharton wrote on behalf of the federation, its member bodies and the British equestrian community to FEI president Ingmar de Vos.

    A statement from the BEF said the letter was in unreserved condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “offered support for any sanctions the FEI might impose on Russia, and Belarus, for their part in this immoral conflict”.

    On Tuesday, after hearing of the FEI’s decision to remove all international equestrian events in Russia and Belarus, Mr Wharton added: “While our part in the global condemnation of the actions of Russia and Belarus is relatively small, we must all take our place and be counted.

    “Sport has a powerful role in society and with bodies like the IOC, FIFA and UEFA taking action, so must we and we stand with the FEI in their decision.

    “‘We offer our support to the national federation of Ukraine and the wider equestrian community in these challenging times and pray for their safety.”

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