The Fédération Equestre Internationale announced today, in its list of decisions made at the April 6-7 FEI Bureau Meeting in Switzerland, that this year’s FEI Endurance World Championships won’t take place in the United Arab Emirates.
The championship was originally scheduled for Dec. 10-17 at the Dubai International Equestrian Centre, but continued issues with UAE endurance, including repeated incidents of cheating, caused the FEI to move the competition. The FEI has now reopened the bid process.
“The FEI Bureau acknowledged the efforts that have been made by the United Arab Emirates national federation in endurance since the reinstatement of the national federation in July 2015,” stated the release. “However, despite the hard work and progress to date, the FEI Bureau is of the opinion that the UAE NF is not currently in a position to guarantee that horse welfare would be fully protected at an FEI World Endurance Championship in the UAE this year.”
The deadline for bids is now May 18, and the new host location will be announced June 14.
“It is expected that the championships will now take place in September or October, so the qualifying period will be moved back by two months, and results starting from October 2014, instead of December 2015, will now count for qualification,” the release continued. “At the same time, there was also unanimous agreement among the Bureau members that rule breaches are absolutely unacceptable, and that the FEI must work even more closely with the UAE NF to guarantee the national federation’s full implementation of FEI rules and regulations, as well as on the July 2015 agreement which will guarantee the welfare of the horse in national and international events. Additionally, and until further notice, the FEI will not sanction any events organized by the [Dubai International Equestrian Centre].”
New sanctions were announced for UAE endurance in February, but the American Endurance Ride Conference and other national federations remained concerned about the location of the championship. An online petition to move the championships gathered nearly 6,500 signatures.
“AERC is pleased to note that the FEI has taken strong steps to insure the welfare and safety of endurance horses by rescheduling the 2016 World Endurance Championship from Dubai to another venue,” said Michael Campbell, President of the American Endurance Ride Conference board of directors. “AERC understands that this is a painful lesson for Dubai, but we believe it serves the best interests of endurance riding worldwide. AERC further applauds the U.S. Equestrian Federation in accurately relaying the sentiments of American riders to the FEI. AERC joins other countries throughout the world in expressing gratitude to FEI for taking this courageous and considered action.”