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‘No grey areas’: equestrians warned to comply with coronavirus rules or risk consequences

A senior FEI doctor has reminded everyone involved in equestrian sport that they cannot pick and choose with Covid-19 safety guidance if competition is to safely continue during the pandemic.

Dr Mark Hart, chairman of the FEI’s medical committee, urged all those involved in equestrianism to remember their “social responsibility far outweighs our professional and sporting goals”, but that the two can go hand in hand.

“When the FEI policy for enhanced competition safety during the Covid-19 pandemic was developed, it was crafted with the goal of providing a safe environment for all participants,” said Dr Hart in an FEI newsletter.

“We believe science supports its effectiveness to reduce the transmission and spread of Covid-19 when applied both consistently and in a strict manner.

“To be successful we require active participation and full compliance by all. There is no middle ground and there are no grey areas.

“As a community, we cannot just apply what we want and ignore what is seen as an inconvenience.”

The reminder follows a call from Olympic showjumper Eric Lamaze for riders to respect the rules and wear masks at shows.

Dr Hart added the FEI is committed to the resumption of sport worldwide and the organisation is working “around the clock to make this happen”.

“In no uncertain terms, we absolutely require the consistent application of all guidelines and recommendations regarding the wearing of face masks, appropriate social distancing and regular and thorough hand sanitising for a successful return to our sport,” added Dr Hart.

“This is not just the responsibility of competition organisers, it applies to every individual attending our events. Athletes, their extended support teams, volunteers, vendors, and fans must all be held to the same level of accountability.

“We understand the frustration caused by this worldwide pandemic. We have all faced the intrusion on our daily lives, our jobs, our finances and what many of us perceive as our freedoms.

“Like an unwelcome guest at a party, this is a situation we have no choice but to confront head on. We must be bigger, smarter and united in our response. Now we have all been called upon to play a greater role in society than we have been accustomed to.”

Dr Hart added the sport “must now make some sacrifices and adapt our habits” for the benefit of wider society.

“Our social responsibility far outweighs our professional and sporting goals — but they are not incompatible. We can reach these goals and ensure the safety of others, but it will require some modifications to our behaviour,” he said.

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“If we want competitions to resume, then we need to show that we as a community are responsible and can be counted on.

“We have outlined what needs to be done through a thoughtfully developed and public health-based policy; and now we need you. We need everyone to apply these guidelines as they will only be effective if they are followed by all.

“We all love this sport. Let’s work together and give our sport and the amazing animals that inspire us a platform on which to shine in these difficult times.”

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