Tokyo Is the Talk of the FEI Online Sports Forum’s Session 1

Photo courtesy of the FEI.

Well, it looks like the Olympics are really going to happen. The U.S. named its eventing squad last week, and the first session of the FEI Online Sports Forum 2021, taking place online this week, focused heavily on preparations for Tokyo.

The session included discussions on the latest climate mitigation measures for the Games, Clean Sport Regulations, and key logistical arrangements in place to meet Covid-19 requirements. Competition will begin July 30 and continue through August 2, 2021, at the Equestrian Park and Sea Forest cross country course venues.

You can read the complete report and watch upcoming sessions live here. Here are notes as they pertain to eventing.

Tokyo 2020 Final Update & Logistics

The FEI Director of Games Operations Tim Hadaway provided an update on the Bajikoen Equestrian Park (EQP) and Sea Forest (SFC) venues, horse health certification and quarantine requirements for Tokyo 2020. He also outlined the requirements for shipping feed, veterinary supplies and equipment as well as the on-venue services in place for feed, hay and bedding.

  • The SFC cross country course has been shortened and a new start area created. There is now a second stabling tent, additional cooling facilities and the warm-up area extended. At EQP the final warm-up arena has been installed and footing on the gallop track has been changed since the Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event in 2019.
  • 60-day surveillance period, movement papers and pre-export testing will be required for horses prior to entering seven-day Pre-Export Quarantine (PEQ). Negative PCR tests (nasopharyngeal swab) for EHV 1 & 4 and Equine Influenza will be required for horses prior to entering PEQ.
  • Plans and timelines for private quarantines should already be completed and signed off by local Ministry vets.
  • The Covid-19 mitigation plan for the Aachen PEQ site, as well as the operational plan will be shared soon. The operational plan will include details regarding arrivals, lorry parking, stabling and training times.
  • The packing list template is currently being finalised and an updated list of feeds permitted for import to Japan will be published on shortly.
  • Veterinary supplements cannot travel with horse equipment. They must be listed as part of a vet kit on Annex D (Peden Bloodstock memo April 2021) and must be submitted prior to June 18 to the Tokyo 2020 Veterinary Services Manager.

Covid-19 Countermeasures 

FEI Director of Olympic Games Catrin Norinder highlighted key points:

  • The Playbooks, which include Covid-19 counter measures, have been developed by the Japanese government, the Tokyo Organising Committee, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to ensure safe Games for all stakeholders.
  • Only accredited individuals with essential and operational roles can attend the Games. No guests, accompanying persons for IOC, IPC, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Federations (IFs) will be allowed.
  • There will be no foreign spectators at the Games and domestic spectator attendance will be decided at a later date.
  • In line with the bubble-to-bubble regulations, everyone attending will be limited to their accommodation and their respective competition venues. No foreign persons involved in the Games will be allowed to use public transport. Stakeholder groups will be kept separated. Horse owners are part of their NOC delegation and the FEI expects confirmation from the IOC on the status of horse owners.
  • Two tests (saliva or nasopharyngeal swab) will be required before departure for Tokyo.
  • Testing will be required daily for everyone attending the Games for the first three days, instead of isolation. Then every four days as per the defined protocol for each stakeholder group (other than athletes).
  • Athletes will be tested daily in the presence of an official (not on competition days).
  • The FEI is monitoring the sports rules and reviewing solutions to ensure that competitions can be completed and medals awarded if a team athlete or essential official tests positive for Covid-19 during competition.
  • Covid Liaison Officers (CLOs) will be appointed to each stakeholder group. CLOs will be responsible for ensuring Covid-19 countermeasures are fully complied with. CLOs will report to the Japanese Government authorities.
  • The Tokyo 2020 Playbooks apply to all stakeholders regardless of whether individuals are vaccinated or not. Vaccination is strongly encouraged but is not a requirement. A third version of these Playbooks will be released later in June.

Substitution Rules 

Catrin Norinder outlined pre-competition changes and substitution rules for the Games:

  • A pre-competition change of athlete/horse combination can be made several times within the respective national team between June 21 (the date of the FEI nominated entries) up to two hours before the start of the eventing competition. A Medical or Veterinary Certificate will not be required.
  • Substitutions can be done once per discipline, up to two hours before the start of competition for Team classification. The Late Athlete Replacement (LAR) will need either Medical or Veterinary approval for substitutions before cross country (up to 5:45 a.m. on the morning of the start of cross country).

Climate Mitigation for Humans & Equines

FEI Athletes Services & Human Anti-Doping Advisor Catherine Bollon and FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström stressed the necessity to begin climate preparation and mitigation practices well before the start of competition in Tokyo. Horses and humans need to be fully prepared to work and compete safely in Tokyo’s hot and humid environment.

Catherine Bollon emphasised a number of key points for human acclimatisation:

  • Heat and humidity preparation must begin many weeks before travel and includes training the body to cope with a hot and humid climate, and putting into place an appropriate cooling and hydration routine.
  • Travel should be carefully planned to reduce jet lag and travel strain in order to arrive onsite in good shape and transition smoothly into the local climate.
  • Appropriate hydration and cooling is crucial at all times.
  • Preparations also include learning to recognise heat stress symptoms and deal with them immediately to prevent them from becoming a heat-related emergency.
  • The FEI has developed resources covering the above points in detail.

For the horses, Göran Åkerström stated that there will be extensive air conditioning in stables and transportation for the horses in Tokyo. There will also be cooling facilities in all training and competition areas, including regularly refilled supplies of water and ice for horses.

There will be robust mitigation protocols in place during training and competition, climate monitoring at both venues (EQP and SFC) and on the field of play, horse monitoring by specialist veterinarians and physiologists, emergency care facilities and protocols, enhanced decision-making processes to support Ground Juries, and climate protocols put in place by specially trained and very experienced personnel.

Dr Åkerström stressed the need to practice training techniques for hot and humid climates in advance of traveling.

Equine & Human Anti-Doping

FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström informed that extensive testing and analysis of equine samples will be carried out as per all FEI Events. Sample analysis will be carried out at the Laboratory of Racing Chemistry in Tokyo and Persons Responsible will receive ongoing Clean Sport communiques from the FEI.

He stressed the importance of educating Athletes, grooms and team veterinarians on Clean Sport requirements prior to the Games and reminded stakeholders of the opportunity to screen horses in advance through Pre-Arrival Testing (PAT). “This is an outstanding service and covers all substances on the Equine Prohibited Substances List, so please use it”, he said.

Catherine Bollon spoke about human anti-doping:

  • The IOC has testing jurisdiction over all athletes competing at the Olympic Games and the IPC over all para athletes competing at the Paralympic Games.
  • All athletes registered to compete at the Games must obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in advance of taking any treatment that contains a substance or method on WADA’s Prohibited List 2021. TUEs for regular treatments must be obtained well before the start of the Games.
  • Bringing medication into Japan for personal or team use is strictly regulated and must be in line with Japanese law ahead of travel. Details and essential links are provided in the FEI Doping & Medication Control Guide for Tokyo 2020.
  • Athletes should do a full medication check with their team doctor, including for supplements.
  • As equestrian is considered a low risk sport for doping in human athletes, there is a tendency for anti-doping not to be taken seriously. Athletes should prepare themselves well in advance and make sure to arrive at the Games well informed.
  • All the relevant information about anti-doping at the Tokyo Games is explained in the FEI Doping & Medication Control Guide for Tokyo 2020 and in free e-learning resources made available by WADA on the ADEL platform.
  • An FEI Clean Sport emailer campaign for both human and equine athletes attending the Olympic Games began in May 2021, and a similar campaign for Paralympic Games athletes will get underway later in June.

Q&A Session

The FEI Secretary General moderated a Q&A session at the end of the presentations, with questions received regarding on-venue Covid-19 testing for Athletes, including P accredited (replacement) Athletes; contingency planning for eventing cross country; substitutions; transport – particularly for NOC delegates that do not normally have access to the official Games transport system; Covid-19 mitigation in the Grooms Village; and on-venue food entitlements for TAP and P accredited persons.

Catrin Norinder updated that competition postponement contingency plans are in place for eventing cross country and options in place depending on climatic conditions and weather forecasts at the time.

The FEI is awaiting formal confirmation that all athletes, including those accommodated outside of the Athletes’ Village, P accredited Athletes and grooms can be Covid-19 tested on venue.

It was confirmed that the use of public transportation will not be permitted, but that the Tokyo Organising Committee has committed to organise transportation, including for persons that do not have transport entitlements with their accreditation. National Federations were urged to also raise this issue with the NOCs, as it affects all sports.

FEI Medical Committee Chair Mark Hart is in contact with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee about the Covid-19 mitigation plan for the Grooms Village and for dealing with any positive cases. The FEI will make this information available to all stakeholders as soon as it becomes available.

While there has been no change to the food entitlement for those holding P and TAP (Training Access Pass) accreditations, provisions have been made for a café adjacent to the stables that will be available to all Zone 2 accredited personnel.

Key links:
Tokyo 2020 Hub
Beat the Heat videos on FEI Campus
FEI Clean Sport Hub

[FEI Online Sports Forum 2021]