FEI Cancels European Mainland Events due to EHV-1 Outbreak

The international calendar started off with great gusto and riders from across Europe, including Alex Stais and the Hilmar Meyer Sporthorses team, made their way to Spain for the CES Valencia Tour. Whilst in the 3rd week of competition, several horses became ill with high temperatures. The veterinarians, show organiser, and the FEI sprang into action as soon as the test results returned a positive case of Equine Herpes Virus and halted all show activities. Unfortunately, the virus that had originated in Valencia has spread rapidly and has already resulted in outbreaks in 3 other countries causing the FEI to make the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all European mainland events.

The decision, which covers all events in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, and Slovakia, has been made according to the FEI General Regulations which stipulate in Article 112.3 that the Secretary-General shall have the authority to remove any competition and/or event from the calendar if justified circumstances relating to a competition or the event are established.


Applicable to all FEI disciplines, the FEI has said that all events will be cancelled until the 28th of March, but in order to prevent huge numbers of horses simultaneously leaving the jumping tours that have been ongoing for weeks in Italy, Belgium, and the Iberian peninsula, these specific tours will be allowed to continue as contained events provided that there are no new horses entering the premises and there are no positive cases of EHV-1. 

Following the announcement of the mainland competitions being cancelled, the FEI Secretary General, Sabina Ibáñez made a statement. “This was not an easy decision to block events in mainland Europe, particularly after the major disruption to the FEI calendar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe in many decades and our decision is based on the clearly identified epidemiological risk factors.” Sabina continued by adding “The strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has already caused equine fatalities and a very large number of severe clinical cases. We need to keep our horses safe. We are also aware that a large number of horses left the venue in Valencia without an official health certificate, meaning they had an unknown health status. Some horses were already sick, and the risk of transmission from these horses is a major concern.”

The outbreak is a major concern for many athletes across the world as not only is this virus incredibly aggressive and contagious but many athletes outside of the European mainland have filled their calendars in hopes of meeting the minimum eligibility requirements (MERs) for the Tokyo Olympics. The Secretary-General has announced that they are looking at ways of alleviating the added stress around the MERs for events that will resume after mainland Europe has been given permission to start with competitions again after the 28th of March.

The FEI is also conscious that some athletes have already arrived at competition venues or are en route, and is directly contacting all impacted athletes entered in events between now and March 28th, 2021.

The outbreak has already caused much devastation as 3 of the horses that were a part of the Hilmar Meyer Sporthorses entourage have sadly passed away and while Hilmar remains in Valencia to care for their horses that have had to remain, Alexa Stais has since returned back to their home-base to ensure the safety and smooth-operations continue at home. We send our condolences to those who have lost their horses and wish for a speedy recovery to all those still affected.

-The JumpOff-


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