FEI Meets Saturday in Japan

Credit : Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday 16 November - 15h56 | Ian Clayton

FEI Meets Saturday in Japan

It is the world body for equestrian sports, regulating Jumping, Eventing and Dressage events across the planet. And starting Saturday, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) will be meeting in Tokyo to set the course of global equestrian competition, including a proposed major reform to the equestrian rules at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.   

 - FEI Meets Saturday in Japan

The FEI’s General Assembly runs from November 19-22 in the Japanese capital and will feature four days of discussions and voting on diverse equestrian issues, FEI long-term strategies, budgets and changes to statutes,. Each national federation has the right to cast a vote at the Assembly, which will be chaired by FEI President Ingmar De Vos. 

In the agenda obtained from the FEI by GrandPrix-Replay, the first competition-related item to be discussed at the meeting is the ‘Approval of competition formats for Tokyo 2020, the next summer Olympic Games. 

The proposal would see three-rider teams in jumping, eventing and dressage at the Olympics. Currently, four riders compete, with the lowest score from each team dropped. Under the new rules, all three scores would be retained.

The reform is in part aimed at simplifying the rules for the wider viewing public and increasing the chances for more nations (including non-traditional horse powers) to compete in equestrian sports at the Olympics, in response to the maximum number of pairs allowed at the Games. At the Rio Olympics, 200 riders competed in equestrian events — 75 riders in jumping, 60 riders in dressage and 65 riders in eventing. 

Many top riders and officials have opposed the reform, including the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), which suggests instead that 12-14 teams of four riders compete at the Games, alongside either 19, 23 or 27 individual riders, which the Club says would also open up the competition to more nations.

The IJRC adds that with, "only teams of three riders and no drop score, if one horse is deemed unfit to compete at 100% of its ability, the rider will be put under strong pressure to compete, in order to avoid elimination of the team. This goes against our fundamental principle of placing the welfare of the horse before everything."

Due to opposition to the proposed reforms, particularly in the jumping and eventing disciplines — in eventing, for example, many observe that often not all competitors finish and thus it is necessary to have four riders —the FEI only plans to change the rule at the Olympics and not other events such as the World Equestrian Games, Nations Cups, and continental championships. If approved by the FEI General Assembly, the rule change would be submitted to the International Olympic Committee.

 - FEI Meets Saturday in Japan

Credit : Tokyo 2020 venue video

Other topics on the agenda in Tokyo include the FEI Solidarity program, which helps national federations develop equestrian sports in their home countries, veterinary questions such as the equine global disease situation, the 2018 World Equestrian Games (recently moved from Quebec, Canada to North Carolina, USA) and world horse welfare, following this month’s 2016 World Horse Welfare Conference in London, England. 

At the 2020 Games, the main equestrian site will be at Baji Koen, the same facility that hosted the Tokyo 1964 Olympic equestrian events. Baji Koen will host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dressage and Jumping disciplines, as well as the Eventing Dressage and Jumping phases.
The Eventing Cross Country phase remains at Sea Forest, also known as Umi no Mori, in Tokyo Bay. 

The FEI was created in 1921 by founding members France, USA, Sweden, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Italy.

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