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Posted by Kirsty Pasto on 04/05/2020.

EA High Performance Program Update on COVID-19, FEI Calendar Task Forces, AIS Rebooting Sport Framework and a Celebration of Equestrian Olympic History – 4th May, 2020

We hope you have all been keeping safe, well and healthy.  

Although the current COVID-19 situation continues to remain unpredictable and fluid there have been optimistic first steps forward this week that are helping to slowly clarify what a return to equestrian sport may start to look like in the future.

On Friday the Prime Minister announced that the National Cabinet had endorsed National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities allowing for a staged return to community and professional sport. The Australian Institute for Sport (AIS) also provided a detailed strategy on ‘The Principles and the Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment’ which presents an evidence-led opportunity for the Australian community to reconnect through sporting activity. 

The AIS and Sport Australia will continue to work with the National Institute Network and National Sporting Organisations in implementing a safe return to training and competition activities at various levels. All sport and recreation resumption decisions should be based on State and Territory COVID-19 public health advice. Further details and a copy of the framework can be found by visiting https://ais.gov.au/health-wellbeing/covid-19#ais_framework_for_rebooting_sport. 

EA High Performance (HP) welcome the Government guidelines on a staged return to sport and will continue to ensure our athletes are supported during this transition process and that their health and minimising the spread of COVID-19 remains the highest priority.

On Friday evening riders on the HP Eventing Green and Gold Squads, based in various countries and time zones, took part in their second digital meeting to discuss planning in these uncertain times. These important digital meetings have provided our athletes with a platform where they are able to access HP support staff and coaches as well as a forum where they can interact with fellow riders facing the same setbacks due to COVID-19. 

The High Performance Program has been utilising these digital meetings with all HP Squad athletes to keep riders engaged, updated and supported in their training and Tokyo 2020 preparations. The feedback from the riders has been overwhelmingly positive with each meeting delivering productive performance focussed outcomes and with riders keen to keep the conversations ongoing. Whilst the delivery of the HP Program has had to adapt due to COVID-19 and social distancing regulations the integrity and content remains robust and progressive with riders committed to and engaged with the amended program. 

The FEI announced last week that the Board had approved the decisions put forward by the FEI Calender Task Forces for Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Vaulting and Reining. The outcomes were as follows:

Jumping: Due to the uncertainty about the organisation of Competitions worldwide during July and August 2020, the Board has approved all Calendar date applications/modifications for Jumping Events that take place up to and including 30 August 2020. No date clash rules will apply for this period.

Dressage: Date applications and/or modifications for high-level events (CDI5*/CDI4*/CDI3* and CDI-W) must reach the FEI eight weeks prior to the event. Date clash rules will not apply to CDI3*.

Eventing: Date applications and/or modifications for CCI5* & CCI4* Long Format must reach the FEI six weeks prior to the event; date applications and/or modifications for CCI4* Short Format and all other Events must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Driving: Date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Vaulting: Date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

Reining: Date applications and/or modifications must reach the FEI four weeks prior to the Event.

The FEI also announced that discussions relating to FEI Championships for all age categories and disciplines as well as potential initiatives to help event organisers would be deferred to its June meeting. The remaining two Task Forces, Endurance and Para-Dressage, will have their recommendations put to the FEI Board for decision on May 5thand we expect to be able to further update the equestrian community on these findings later this week when the information comes to hand.

We were all given the opportunity this week to reflect on the proud Olympic history as the Australian Olympic Commission (AOC) celebrated its centenary. The celebration of this milestone provided a moment when we as Australians could take pause and remember the incredible sporting achievements of our Nation, including the countless accomplishments of our equestrian athletes. To celebrate we created a short video looking at the Australian Equestrian Team’s Olympic past. The video can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/aussieteamrider/videos/930148934104677/

The EA High Performance Panel and the Chairs of the National Selection Panels continue to meet regularly to discuss the impact of the current circumstances on our Tokyo preparation, strategic and operational planning, nomination policies and funding. As there are many variables still at this stage, we will continue to work hard in adapting these plans and policies and to remain available to our stakeholders during this time. Key HP staff members continue to liaise directly with the FEI on matters concerning Tokyo 2020 operations, the qualification of athletes and the obtaining of Minimum Eligibility Requirements. Although these discussions are ongoing and a final decision has not yet been determined we are working hard to ensure a fair and achievable outcome is reached in the best interest of the sport. 

The health and safety of our people and horses remain our priority as we work together as a broader community in order to navigate through these tough times. 

We thank you all for your understanding and continued support and please feel free to contact the High Performance team directly if you have any questions or queries.

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