By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has proposed expanding the number of dressage horses and riders to 60 from the past level of 50 with dressage teams of up to four combinations, a change that would be a dramatic improvement for the sport that demonstrated its popularity at last summer’s Olympics in London.
The increase for dressage to take effect for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro would be made possible by taking 10 riders from eventing but still remain within the overall limit of 200 horses for the three disciplines of dressage, eventing and eventing set by the International Olympic Committee.
The proposed changes in the allocation of the number of horses in the three Olympics disciplines–75 riders for jumping, the same as now; 60 for dressage, up from 50 in 2012, and eventing 65, down from 75 in 2012–will be a major issue at the FEI Sports Forum to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland April 8-9. The complete agenda is available here
Under the new proposal, all three disciplines could include a maximum of four riders per team with the three best results counting for the team results. This is no change for jumping, but means that eventing would not be able to field five combinations with three scores counting.
Dressage with a maximum allocation of 50 riders has been restricted to three combinations in both the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and in London in 2012, with no provision to discard the lowest score.
Eventing would also be on the same footing as dressage and jumping in the past two Olympics, in that eventing teams could have a reserve combinations.
Teams will qualify for the Olympics similar to previous years–throught the World Equestrian Games held two years before the Olympics, at championships such as the Europeans and the Pan American Games the year before the Olympics and other approved events.
Individual places for all three disciplines will be allocated from the respective Olympic Ranking lists to be created.
One dedicated place will be guaranteed for each group and the other places will be allocated for the three disciplines based on the rankings in order of classification regardless of the region. Nations already qualified as teams will not be included for any of the individual places.
One athlete can only earn one quota place, a change from previous Olympics.
The proposed qualifying system for the 2016 Games also directly addressed the issue that occurred in 2012 when so-called “popup” events were added on short notice to enable qualifying in some nations. The most controversial revolved around events staged in Brazil that triggered a complaint from the Dominican Republic.
Qualifying events must be entered in the FEI Calendar “in accordance with the relevant FEI Calendar deadlines (at the latest by 1 October unless an earlier date is specified by the relevant Sport Rules; for example, for 5* Events in Jumping the dates shall be approved two years prior to the year in which the Event is to take place).
“Once the list of Qualifying Events is published by the FEI, there cannot be any new Events added to such list, unless there is a Force Majeure event and subject to FEI’s approval.
“The list of the 2015 Qualifying Events will be published by the end of 2014, and the list of the 2016 Qualifying Events will be published by the end of 2015.”
The list of events to obtain Quota Places (individual qualification) through Olympic Rankings will “be strongly respected and exceptions to be avoided,” it said. “It is important to recognize that even exceptions that have an indirect impact on selection should be avoided.”
The invitation criteria for each Qualifying Event set in each Competition Schedule to be reviewed and approved by the FEI and then strictly respected by all participants.
Horses entered for the equestrian events at the Olympic Games must be registered with FEI as the property of owners of the same nationality as the Athlete, by January 15, 2016. In previous Olympics, the deadline was December 31, of the year preceding the Games.
Any Athlete changing his/her sport nationality during the Olympic Qualification period will be removed from the Olympic Individual Rankings. In addition, only Athletes who can represent country X in the Olympic Games according to the IOC nationality’s requirements shall be allowed to earn a quota place for such country X.
The deadline for National Federations/National Olympic Committees to qualify teams for the 2016 Olympic Games
shall be February 29, 2016 (results until midnight, February 29 2016 in the country where the competition takes place will count).
NFs/NOCs will be informed by the FEI, within 48 hours after the above mentioned deadline of their qualification with either a team and/or individuals for the 2016.
Olympic Games. Qualified NFs/NOCs must inform the FEI in writing by March 31, 2016 whether they intend to participate in the Olympics. An NF/NOC confirming its intent to participate in the Olympic Games will imply that such this NF/NOC is qualified to participate in the Olympic Games
The FEI will reallocate all available places by April 15, 2016.
The same doping/medication rules will be applied at Rio as were implemented in London.
Ingmar de Vos, the FEI Secretary General, said the aim of the proposal was “to harmonize the rules between the three disciplines but also to address new situations that occurred during the last Games and which need to be solved.”
“Compared to the past, the success of Equestrian Sport at the London Olympics and Paralympics has put us in a somewhat more secure position with regard to our place in the Olympic Program,” he said.
“However, we must remain vigilant and alert and we should not spare any effort to keep our sport as successful as possible in the Games. We must also accept that the IOC will not increase our quota which would of course have made the discussions at the Sports Forum much easier. Furthermore, we must understand and accept that it will be impossible to make everybody happy and that after an open discussion we have the responsibility to come to a conclusion. The success and respect for our sport and for the FEI will also depend on the capability of our community to stand together unified behind a proposal for the IOC, knowing that in this case the solution will be the best one possible but not ideal.”