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Estonia's equestrian governing body rejects call to admit Russian competitors

Tallinn International Horse Show
Tallinn International Horse Show Source: Kristina Pärtel

Estonia's equestrian sports governing body has rejected a recent decision by showjumping's international umbrella organization to permit Russian and Belarusian competitors and officials to take part in events, under a neutral flag.

Estonia is joined by equestrian bodies in the Baltic and Nordic countries in issuing a statement to the effect that Russian and Belarusian competitors will not be permitted to take part in events held in the signatory countries.

The board of the Estonian Equestrian Sports Association (Eesti Ratsaspordi Liit, ERL)  made a snap and categorical decision to not go along with the decision from the board of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), plus a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), that Russian and Belarusian riders be permitted to compete under a neutral flag.

ERL board chair Marti Hääl stressed in the statement that: "The war situation in Ukraine has not changed, so we are of the firm opinion that a competitive ban imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials must remain in place, as the neutrality of athletes from aggressor countries cannot be ascertained or assessed."

This line was also held by sports bodies in other countries in the region, Hääl added.

"The Nordic and Baltic Olympic and Paralympic committees, together with the national equestrian associations, continue to confirm their unwavering support for Ukraine."

"We remain adamant that now is not the right time to lift the ban, and we are working closely with the relevant stakeholders in closely monitoring the situation," Hääl continued.

The FEI is one of the confederations that decided to maintain the ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus this spring, despite the IOC's recommendation to ease the ban, on a conditional basis.

This decision is to be confirmed nest months, prompting the national federations of the Nordic and Baltic countries, along with Poland, and under the auspices of the ERL, to present a joint statement at a general meeting which ended on Tuesday. 

The FEI had noted that athletes from aggressor countries have already been allowed back into the international arena in several other sports. 

The ERL confirmed that notwithstanding the IOC and FEI rulings, Russian and Belarusian athletes, horses and officials will not be allowed to participate in international equestrian held on Estonian soil.

The FEI made its decision, to permit Russian and Belarusian riders to participate in international competitions once again, on an individual basis under a neutral flag, at its meeting held in Mexico last weekend.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: ERR Sport, reporter Maarja Värv

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