Covid-19 forces FEI to move General Assembly online

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FEI President Ingmar De Vos, with secretary-general Sabrina Ibanez at the FEI General Assembly.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos, with secretary-general Sabrina Ibanez at the FEI General Assembly on Moscow last year. © FEI

For the first time in its history, the FEI’s General Assembly will be held online later this year because of Covid-19 social distancing requirements and travel restrictions.

The 2020 event was to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November, but the city will host the 2021 renewal, the Board decided. The decision to take the GA online was made by the FEI Board during its three-day video-conference meeting this week.

“The safety of our community is our highest priority and although it is regrettable, cancelling our in-person General Assembly this year and going online was the responsible thing to do,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

“We are very grateful to the National Federation of South Africa for the support and flexibility they have shown, as well as their willingness to host our General Assembly next year when the situation will hopefully have improved for everyone.

“We are lucky to live in a time where it is possible to meet virtually, even though face-to-face meetings and discussions keep us together as a community.”

With the pandemic legally defined as “force majeure” in Switzerland, the country’s Federal government has adopted ad hoc temporary measures to facilitate the organisation of General Assembly meetings for Swiss-based associations such as the FEI.

Under these special regulations, the FEI is permitted to hold its General Assembly electronically. Other large international gatherings, including next month’s IOC Session, will also be held online.

“While we are of course disappointed not to be able to hold the FEI General Assembly in South Africa this year, we appreciate the confidence that the FEI has shown to us by giving us the opportunity to host the General Assembly next year,” President of the National Federation of South Africa Adv Willem Edeling SC said.

“It will be the first time that an international equestrian gathering of this scale will be held in South Africa and we look forward to welcoming delegates from around the world to our world-class meeting facilities. 2021 is the centenary of the FEI, and we feel privileged that our event will form part of the 100-year celebrations.”

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