‘No room for complacency’ top FEI doctor warns equestrians

  • A senior FEI medic has reminded equestrians there is “no room for complacency” and urged them to remember their individual and social responsibilities as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.

    Dr Mark Hart, chairman of the FEI medical committee, made the calls in his New Year message to the equestrian world on 19 January.

    “I write to you in the beginning of the New Year to reiterate and remind each and every one of you of our responsibility, as both a community and individuals, in the face of this global pandemic,” said Dr Hart.

    “Over the past year, Covid-19 has tested our resilience, our public systems, and our civic duty and unfortunately, it will continue to do so for the months to come. And although there is now light at the end of the tunnel with the recent approval of several highly effective and safe vaccines, there is still much work to be done until adequate numbers of people can be vaccinated to control this pandemic.”

    He added the horse sport world has shown its strength as a community and it is “crucial we do not let our guard down prematurely because of pandemic fatigue”.

    “We rallied together and went above and beyond national requirements to make our equestrian events safe, so that our sport could continue and so that the livelihoods and dreams of so many individuals and organisations could be protected,” he said, thanking all those involved for “embracing all the mitigation measures”.

    “The FEI has remained fully focused when it comes to ensuring the safety of all participants at our events, and has been diligently tracking reports of non-compliance to address concerns and find solutions,” said Dr Hart.

    “As I have said before, our social responsibility far outweighs our professional and sporting goals — but they are not incompatible. We have shown this through the events that our loyal organisers have managed to host since the outbreak began.”

    The call comes on the day that global deaths from the virus top 2,056,700, while the UK reached 90,000 total deaths.

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    “However, we must continue to show our determination to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at events by rigorously applying all of the rules and respecting local restrictions and FEI guidelines,” said Dr Hart.

    “We have all heard alarming reports of non-compliance in all areas of life. Whatever role you play at a show – organiser, athlete, groom and/or support personnel, owner, official, veterinarian or a volunteer – don’t let your behaviour result in an FEI event becoming a super-spreader event.

    “There is no room for complacency, we must remain steadfast. Wear a mask, socially distance, avoid group gatherings whenever possible and frequently wash your hands, and encourage others to do the same.

    “The actions of every individual and every community will affect the ultimate outcome and timeline of this pandemic. It is essential we stand together, united in our resolve to reduce the transmission and spread of Covid-19.

    “This is a responsibility we all bear and we must embrace it wholeheartedly.”

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