“Radical Changes” to Olympic Equestrian Formats Outlined at FEI General Assembly

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FEI President Ingmar De Vos (left) leading discussions on proposed changes to Olympic competition formats with Frank Kemperman (dressage), John Madden (jumping) and Giuseppe Della Chiesa (eventing). © 2015 FEI/Richard Juilliart
FEI President Ingmar De Vos (left) leading discussions on proposed changes to Olympic competition formats with Frank Kemperman (dressage), John Madden (jumping) and Giuseppe Della Chiesa (eventing). © 2015 FEI/Richard Juilliart

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Nov. 12, 2015–Changes to the Olympic formats of dressage, eventing and jumping that the International Equestrian Federation(FEI) described as “radical” were outlined to national federations Thursday.
 
 Equestrian sports were already undergoing change, said FEI President Ingmar De Vos, but were accelerated by the so-called Olympic Agenda 2020 being implemented by the International Olympic Committee ahead of the Games in Tokyo in 2020. Proposed change were reported earlier by dressage-news.com and are available here.

“Olympic Agenda 2020 is a driving force in this process,” he told the organization’s General Assembly holding its annual meeting here, “but even prior to that we already knew that changes needed to be made to our formats and the presentation of our sport.

“But why do we want to change our formats and the way our sport is presented? The answer is really quite simple, because we want to remain relevant in today’s ever changing sporting landscape and gain the exposure and visibility our sport deserves.
 
 “As the IOC President aptly said at the IOC Session in Monaco last December, ‘to change or to be changed, that is the question.’ This is why we are here today, to lead that change.
 
“We need to take advantage of the excitement and drama of our sport, make it easier to understand, attract young and larger audiences, be broadcast friendly and see more nations represented in our sport.”
 
The goal was to move from sport-based to event-based Olympic program in Tokyo 2020.
 
Frank Kemperman, chairman of the Dressage Committee, John Madden for jumping and Giuseppe Della Chiesa for eventing outlined proposed changes.
 
Harmonizing Olympic equestrian sport with a cap of three team members across the three disciplines was one of the key proposals, with the by-product of increasing the number of flags at the Olympic Games. Separating individual and team events and removing team drop scores were also put forward.

Under the new proposals, dressage would have a total of 15 teams and 15 individual athletes, using heats to qualify the top 18 for the individual final, maximizing the emotion and drama of the sport.
 
Jumping would have 20 teams and 15 individuals, with a jump-off for first place in both individual and team. If team gold is decided by a jump-off, all three team horse/rider combinations would compete against the clock but only the best score would count. Other proposed changes would see the team competition mirror the current Nations Cup format, with just the top 10 teams starting with zero penalties in the medal-decider final.

The dressage phase of eventing would be condensed to a single day using a shorter test, but the traditional format of dressage, cross country and jumping would be retained as the essence of the discipline.

Based on feedback from this session proposed new formats would be tweaked in time for the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland next April 4-5 and voted on at the General Assembly a year from now.