This year’s endurance world championships have been stripped from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over welfare concerns.
The FEI Bureau made the decision this week during a two-day meeting in Lausanne.
The championships, which were set to be held in Dubai from December 10-17, have been under a cloud in recent months amid ongoing welfare concerns in UAE endurance.
Several major equestrian nations had raised serious doubts over whether they would attend the world championships in the UAE under present circumstances.
The FEI had also received an online petition with more than 5500 signatories asking that the world championships be moved.
The bureau, in a statement summarising business covered during its meeting, acknowledged the efforts made by the UAE’s national federation in endurance since its provisional suspension was lifted in July 2015.
“However, despite the hard work and progress to date, the FEI Bureau is of the opinion that the UAE national federation 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.
“As a result, the bureau decided to remove the FEI World Endurance Championships 2016 from the UAE.”
The championships were originally allocated to the Emirates Equestrian Federation in December 2014. The event was to have been staged at Dubai’s main endurance hub.
The bid process will now be reopened to find a replacement venue outside the UAE.
The deadline for bids is May 18 and the allocation to a new host will be made during the bureau teleconference on June 14.
It is expected that the championships will now be staged in September or October, so the qualifying period will be moved back by two months. Results starting from October 2014, instead of December 2015, will now count for qualification.
The statement said the bureau also reached unanimous agreement that rule breaches were absolutely unacceptable and that the FEI must work even more closely with the Emirates Equestrian Federation to guarantee its full implementation of FEI rules and regulations, as well as 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 organised by the Dubai International Equestrian Centre.” The FEI later clarified that it was referring to the Dubai Equestrian Club.