FEI 2016: Final Debate Ahead of Big Olympic Vote

Credit : FEI (image montage - Ian Clayton)

Monday 21 November - 16h05 | Ian Clayton/Press release

FEI 2016: Final Debate Ahead of Big Olympic Vote

Olympic equestrian formats at the Tokyo 2020 Games were debated at the FEI General Assembly session in Japan today ahead of tomorrow’s big vote.   

Almost 300 delegates, representing 76 of the FEI’s 134 National Federations, took part in the final debate on the proposed reforms in the three Olympic disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing – and Para-Equestrian Dressage at the Paralympics. 

The reforms would see a change from four athletes to three and remove the drop score, which previously allowed for a team’s worst score to be discarded. 

The FEI argues that the changes would make Olympic equestrian sports accessible to more nations. That is because there are a limited number of total human/equine athlete combinations allowed to compete at the Olympics, so smaller teams would allow for more openings. In Rio the number was 200 — 75 in Jumping, 65 in Eventing and 60 in Dressage.

“We are a sport with 134 National Federations, and it’s correct that not all of them compete at elite level, but the development our sport has seen over the last decades as well as the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 oblige us to focus on an increase in the number of participating nations within the existing quota,” said FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “It is of course our role to get more National Federations to compete at the top level and to offer them an avenue for development.”

Ulf Helgstrand, President of the Danish National Federation, spoke in favour of the new proposals. “We want excitement and more flags, and we have to make our sport more understandable,” he said.

“Which other sport can have a medal with an athlete that’s been disqualified? We will have much more excitement if one of the top countries or riders fails. This will give us more excitement and more flags.”

On the opposing side, German National Federation Secretary General Soenke Lauterbach said: “We understand the desire to get more universality in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but it has to be balanced with the core principles of our sport, that we have top athletes, top level sport and in line with horse welfare requirements. We do not feel that with three per team we have the right balance of these three principles and that is why we will vote against tomorrow, but we will accept and work with whatever decision is made.”

If approved tomorrow, the proposed reforms will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when it meets in February, 2017. 

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