Equestrian: FEI maintains ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes despite IOC recommendations

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has decided to keep its ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes competing in international equestrian events.

Eventing World champion 2022 Yasmin Ingham (Twitter- British Equestrian, Jon Stroud Media)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Apr 5, 2023 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has decided to keep its ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes competing in international equestrian events, regardless of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently suggesting that some athletes from these countries compete as neutrals. The FEI’s judgment was made because the group lacks the tools required to define and assess neutrality in a suitable manner. Ingmar De Vos, the president of the FEI and a representative of the IOC, stated that it was decided to maintain the ban for the time being.

The IOC Executive Board proposed last week that certain Russian and Belarusian athletes be permitted to compete internationally again if they do not overtly support the invasion of Ukraine or have military ties. The IOC‘s position reversed its earlier proposal for an outright suspension of these athletes following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. According to the International Olympic Committee, it is up to individual sports federations to choose whether or not to implement their suggestions.

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What did the FEI board say?

On March 2, 2022, the FEI ban went into effect, making it illegal for athletes, horses, and officials from Russia and Belarus to compete in equestrian competitions. The IOC’s guidelines for the return of neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus to the international competition were discussed during an emergency teleconference of the FEI Board. The Board came to the conclusion that neutrality cannot currently be adequately defined and assessed, and that the FEI lacks the instruments essential to assess the terms of participation for specific neutral athletes and support staff in a fair and impartial way.

The FEI Board decided to maintain the ban and declared that all athletes, horses, and officials from Russia and Belarus would no longer be permitted to compete in FEI events. The FEI schedule for 2023 cannot be updated with any FEI events held in Russia or Belarus. The Board also postponed or changed the locations of officials’ courses and other FEI events planned for Russia and Belarus in 2023. All FEI solidarity programs in these nations remain on hold.

What else was addressed in the teleconference?

The FEI Board offered its continuous support for the Ukrainian equestrian fraternity through the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund and reaffirmed its continued backing for the people of Ukraine. Russians and Belarusians are now permitted to compete in several sports, including wrestling, table tennis, taekwondo, fencing, and table tennis. They have nonetheless established panels that evaluate neutrality. The government of Ukraine has declared that its athletes would not take part in any competitions in which Russians are taking part.

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