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Posted by Kirsty Pasto on 11/05/2020.

Update on COVID-19 and the EA High Performance Program, FEI Calendar Task Forces and a Staged Return to Sport in Australia – 11th May, 2020

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

Although the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation continues to affect the way we live and train we have begun to see various countries emerging from strict lockdown with an ease in Government restrictions. Some of our athletes overseas are now able to move more freely from their home bases and in Australia the restrictions are being closely monitored with a proposed staged return to sport for the future.   

Last week The Australian Institute of Sport introduced a detailed strategy on ‘The Principles and the Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment’, which provided an optimistic first stage in the return of sporting activity throughout Australia. Since the release of the framework additional amendments have been made to equestrian sport. 

For equestrian, the recommended Level A, B and C activities is as follows:
Level A – Solo/pairs training only.
Level B – Full training. 
Level C – Full training and competition.
The AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment can be found here: https://ais.gov.au/health-wellbeing/covid-19#ais_framework_for_rebooting_sport.

The EA High Performance Program has been utilising a variety of digital meetings to ensure we remain connected with our athletes across the globe and to provide our riders with the support required for them to continue to look ahead with confidence to a postponed Games in Tokyo 2021. The delivery of the HP Program continues to adapt to the current COVID-19 climate and is utilising innovative ways to maintain strong connections with our stakeholders. The resilient nature of the HP program has also allowed the swift adaption of our program to social distancing regulations and is seeing our riders engaged more than ever in our robust Olympic and Paralympic preparations.

We wish to thank our identified Jumping riders who last week took part in the HP videoconference. The videoconference included an update from HP staff, a Q&A opportunity and a productive group discussion surrounding the training and preparation each individual is maintaining during COVID-19. The riders who joined the videoconference are based around the world in Australia, America and Europe and the unique opportunity for them to come together to share ideas, engage with HP staff, and discuss training strategy was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback by all involved. Not only were our Jumping riders able to connect with HP staff they were also able to check in and enjoy time with their fellow riders allowing a momentary closing of the distance that COVID-19 has rapidly enforced upon us. 

The final two FEI Calender Task Forces, Endurance and Para-Dressage, also met last week to discuss the current issues facing the sport and their recommendations were put to the FEI Board for ratification.

In addition to their current workload in supporting our sport through this uncertain time all HP staff have been given the chance to undertake a number of professional development opportunities. These opportunities have allowed HP staff to gain coveted access to various industry leaders in High Performance sport and to learn from a variety of personalities across multiple sports and platforms. This is something our HP staff has fully embraced as they continue to work in alignment with our athletes towards a postponed Tokyo Games.

The EA High Performance Panel and the Chairs of the National Selection Panels continue to meet regularly to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our Tokyo preparations, strategic and operational planning, nomination policies and funding. Many variables still remain at this stage with the FEI yet to confirm details regarding the qualification of athletes and the obtaining of Minimum Eligibility Requirements. Key HP staff will continue to liaise directly with the FEI on these matters and will work hard to ensure a fair and attainable outcome is reached in the best interest of the sport. We will endeavour to keep you updated on this progress where we can and remain connected with you as a high performance equestrian community.

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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