FEI Responds to Criticism of Biosecurity Conditions at Rio 2016 Olympic Venue

ph courtesy FEI
ph courtesy FEI

While alarm bells were sounded this week regarding the likelihood of the equestrian sports venue at next year’s Rio Olympic Games passing all necessary import/export protocols, the FEI has been quick to step in with reassurance that all should be well in time for kickoff of the XXXI Olympiad next summer.

When President of the Brazilian Equestrian Confederation Luiz Roberto Giugni expressed doubts on October 7th that equestrian federation health-related import and export procedures would not be finalized by the end of this month, the story was picked up by American outlets MSNBC and the Associated Press and spread like wildfire, prompting a swift response from the FEI.

“We have been working for some time with Rio2016, 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,” responded FEI President Ingmar De Vos in a statement released by the FEI.

While De Vos confirmed that protocols were not yet confirmed, “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,” he added.

Raw nerves around this subject are no doubt related to cases of the bacterial infection glanders, which can be lethal to horses and popped up in several, nationally-based Brazilian horses this year. Parties on both sides wish to ensure that every one of the 60 dressage, 75 jumping and 65 eventing horses due to compete at Rio 2016 are ensured safe passage and secure, biosecurity-controlled environments during their stay in Brazil.

The 2016 Rio Olympic equestrian events are due to be staged at Deodoro Olympic Park, a venue that while located one hour outside of the city of Rio de Janeiro, will be one of the four main locations of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and the second largest. The complex is expected to host 11 of the Summer Olympic sports, and an equestrian test event was held there earlier this summer to passing reviews.

“Biosecurity protocols will ensure the safe import and export of the Olympic horses,” De Vos said. “Therefore we are confident that our horses will be allowed to travel back and forth to Rio to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games together with all the other Olympic sports. We are looking forward to very successful Olympic equestrian events in Deodoro next year.”