Statement on Olympic horse nationality

05 July 2021
Media updates
05 July 2021 Author: FEI

The case of the horse Hermes (FEI ID: 105SD82), ridden by Dutch athlete Dinja Van Liere, is unfortunate but regrettably was totally avoidable had the straightforward checks been carried out by the Dutch National Federation and owner before the 15 January 2021 deadline.

The FEI General Regulations are very clear that the responsibility on the ownership of horses lies with the National Federation, therefore it is the responsibility of the Dutch National Federation to ensure that any horse entered for the Games to represent The Netherlands is registered in Dutch nationality and that all entries are up to date and accurate.

Please refer to Article 139 of the FEI General Regulations which states: Owners and Lessees of Horses

National Federations must keep a register of the Owners and lessees of Horses with official passports. Changes of Owners and records of leasing agreements must be entered in the FEI and/or national passport and authenticated by the stamp and signature of an National Federation official.

The rules in relation to the nationality of horses that compete in the Olympic Games and the deadline to ensure all horses meet the nationality requirements are extremely clear and all National Federations were specifically advised of the requirements well in advance of the deadline(s). For your information the original deadline was 15 January 2020, and due to the postponement of the Olympic Games, this deadline was updated to 15 January 2021.

All National Federations, horse owners and athletes had ample opportunities to ensure that the correct nationality was entered in the FEI database and FEI passport and these requirements need to be fulfilled for horses to be eligible to compete at the Olympic Games. In this case, the information was not updated despite the clear reminders issued by the FEI in advance of the deadline.

The FEI understands the disappointment that the opportunity for selection for the Olympic Games is no longer a possibility for Hermes and Dinja Van Liere, due to the fact that the horse was not registered with a Dutch nationality by 15 January 2021 as per the requirements. However, this rule is based on fairness and transparency and is not simply a formality. The rule does not provide for exceptions to be granted, and it must be applied consistently to all National Federations, Athletes and Horses to ensure a level playing field.

The full reasoned FEI Tribunal decision is available here.

The Dutch National Federation and the owner of the horse each filed separate requests for provisional measures to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Sunday 4 July 2021. Those requests were both dismissed by the CAS around midday on Monday 5 July 2021. According to the FEI Statutes, the FEI Tribunal and the CAS are the only bodies with authority to rule on this matter; therefore the FEI now considers the matter to be closed.

A horse nationality case involving the Israeli athlete Daniel Bluman and the horse Gemma W (FEI ID: 105RR80) was also appealed to the FEI Tribunal and the CAS. The full reasoned FEI tribunal decision is published here.