Quarantine Agreement Secures Olympic Equestrian Events

Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Mark Vaile, recently announced that Olympic equestrian events would be held on Australian soil for the first time thanks to an historic quarantine agreement between the Commonwealth and the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG).

The agreement between SOCOG and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) sets requirements for quarantine and export inspection services for the 260 international horses expected to arrive in Australia for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

"The last time Australia hosted the Olympic Games in 1956 equestrian events were held in Stockholm due to concern about infectious animal diseases entering Australia," Vaile said.

"With the signing of today's historic agreement, modern quarantine procedures mean that we can stage one of the world's most important events while protecting Australia's $5 billion horse industry from threats such as equine influenza or the wasting disease equine piroplasmosis.

"Advances in disease testing, risk analysis and management will allow the safe importation of horses from competing countries with existing protocols in place."

The horses will arrive on SOCOG-chartered flights on August 21-25, 2000, for a minimum two-week quarantine period at Sydney International Equestrian Centre, which will be gazetted as a quarantine site under AQIS veterinary supervision.

Vaile said the unique quarantine agreement was part of the Federal Government's contribution to the successful staging of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

"The agreement follows the Memorandum of Understanding entered into by the Prime Minister and Premier of NSW that gives $30.79 million to SOCOG for purchasing services, facilities and equipment to help stage the Games," he said.

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