2016 Olympic Dressage Qualification Proposal Increases WEG to 4 Teams, Pan Ams Stay at 1

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Qualifiations for the 2016 Olympics has been increased to four nations from three that can send teams from the World Equestrian Games but a new proposal from the International Equestrian Federation still limited the Pan American Games to a single team.

The increase to four teams from the WEG amended the initial proposal prepared by the FEI for its Sport Forum April 8-9.

The addition of a team from WEG qualification, reported by sources within the FEI to have been drafted by the Dressage Committee, enables the top nations in the world more opportunity to qualify.

The number of nations able to qualify a team through the European Championships in 2015 remains unchanged at three. If Europe was to win all four places at WEG, the continent would thus have seven of 11 places awarded by the qualifications procedures.

The changes include increasing the number of horses and riders in dressage to 60 from 50 in the London Olympics, plus providing for teams of up to four combinations providing for one drop score. The 2008 and 2012 Olympics restricted dressage teams to three combinations thus allowing no drop score and led to almost universal demands to change the team makeup.

The draft limits each nation to a total of four horses and riders and countries that do not qualify teams at authorized competitions can seek to qualify individuals that would allow a country with three individual combinations to create a so-called “composite” team.

The latest FEI proposal can be found at: OG2016_QualificationProposal_Dressage.Updated.

The draft makes no change to Pan Am qualifying that reduced to one instead of two the number of nations able to qualify.

Some officials in the United States were reported to have pushed for the change to four teams qualifying at the WEG based on the results of the 2010 WEG in Kentucky where the U.S. finished fourth. That was high enough to qualify for London as Great Britain placed second but as the host nation for the London 2012 Games did not take one of the three qualifying spots.

Brazil, as the host for 2016, is automatically provided a team spot but riders have to meet the minimum of two scores of 64 per cent in qualification capable CDI Grand Prix.

Both Canada and Maribel Alonso of Mexico, active in both FEI and Pan American Games organizations, have spoken out against limiting the world’s second largest multisport event–only the Olympics are bigger–to a single nation to qualify.

Recent history suggests that if the U.S. fails to qualify at WEG it will be the favorite to win gold at the Pan Ams scheduled for Toronto in 2015.

Canada, based on results from the past three Pan Ams, would be favored to win silver. So if the U.S. or Canada qualifies at WEG–it is considered unlikely for both to qualify in the WEG at Normandy next year–the nation that does not qualify there would most likely be the favorite to win the team spot fom the Pan Ams.

Central and South America would be represented solely by Brazil, the host country, although the Olympics are being held in South America for the first time ever. The only summer Olympics to be held in the Americas outside the United States (St. Louis, Los Angeles twice and Atlanta) or Canada (Montreal) was Mexico City in 1968.