FEI president Ingmar De Vos closed the FEI Online General Assembly on an optimistic note this week, saying the equestrian world’s “resilience, determination and passion” had been inspiring over the past few months.
“I am grateful to everyone for their resourcefulness and ability to adapt. This has been a team effort – we have had to think out of the box and we have had to be quick on our feet.”
“We were and still will be faced with challenges we never imagined. And in a year where compromise, change and uncertainty have been the norm, I believe, as a community, we have responded with great resilience and diligence. A major crisis requires a major response, which in itself requires good governance, and a true passion to overcome any obstacles in the way,” De Vos said in his closing address to the General Assembly (GA).
“This is the strength of our community and the building blocks to our future. I have been profoundly impressed by the resilience of the equestrian community when faced with adversity. And I am indebted to everyone that has contributed to finding or providing solutions this year.”
He said that while the online GA had gone smoothly, it did not compare to an in-person event. The online event replaced the General Assembly that was to be held in South Africa, where next year’s GA will be hosted.
De Vos reminded delegates that the FEI will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021. “We are a long way from 1921 when eight founding members – Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America – came together to organise the sport and formulate international rules and protocols. In the meantime, a lot has changed. But we have never been scared of a challenge – and together with all 137 affiliated National Federation Members – we can continue to set ambitious goals.”
He said that with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo coming up, “we need to make sure that our sport is the shining light in what they are now calling the Games of Hope”.
“We need to show how unique we are in the sporting landscape. There is no sport that compares to equestrian and it is our responsibility and our duty to make sure we present the very best of who we are and what we are all about.”
De Vos pointed out that despite 2020 being an unsettled year, the FEI continued to win awards and to be recognised as leaders in governance, sustainability and digital engagement. “With no live events and less possibility to engage with our fans or provide returns to our sponsors, we had to act fast. And not only did we win awards for our content, we ensured that our sponsors and our community could remain connected. And by doing this, we were able to maintain a healthy digital footprint, which has become an important performance indicator also in the eyes of the IOC when it comes to evaluating sports in the Olympic programme.”
De Vos said that some financial measures were applied to alleviate the strain from the Covid-19 repercussions, including waiving calendar fees for National Federations, applying a 50% reduction in annual fees and the announcement of the FEI Covid-19 Relief Fund. “Today already 30 applications have been received and 230,000 CHF has been transferred to National Federations and there is more to come.”
In his financial report, FEI Chief Financial Officer Claude Praz said the FEI portfolio had shown improved performance, with a CHF 2.5 million deficit earlier in the year now down to CHF 800,000. The 2021 Budget sees a projected loss of CHF 1,323,755, but Praz reported that this can be readily absorbed by the level of FEI reserves without endangering the existence of the FEI. The same principle of deferring non-essential projects will be continued in 2021.
Breeding data exchange
A shared and co-owned Data Exchange Platform between the WBFSH (World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses) and the FEI has been developed, allowing studbooks to retrieve competition results for horses and allowing the FEI to retrieve the breeding information for all WBFSH horses competing at FEI competitions. Certain selected studbooks will first use this platform in a pilot phase, and it will be opened progressively to all other Studbooks during 2021.