Proposed changes to the Olympic equestrian format, most notably a new three-athlete team limit, were passed overwhelmingly overnight at the FEI General Assembly in Tokyo. Under the new format there is no longer a drop score, but the role of the reserve combination becomes key.
An outline of the changes as applied to eventing:
- Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
- One reserve combination per team will be allowed. The reserve combination is an important element of the proposal in order to preserve horse welfare. If a reserve combination is substituted, it will incur a penalty for the team. The exact penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
- Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team
- Order of tests to remain unchanged (1st Dressage; 2nd Cross Country; 3rd Jumping Team; 4th Jumping Individual)
- Olympic Eventing to take place over three days (Dressage test reduced to one day)
- Technical level of the three tests to be defined as the “Olympic level”: Dressage and Jumping 4*; Cross Country: 10-minute optimum time, 45 jumping efforts, and 3* technical difficulty
- Qualification of athletes/horses to be achieved on the same Cross Country technical level to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the FEI Independent Audit in Eventing
- For the purpose of the Team classification only: any horse/athlete combinations not completing a test can continue to the next test if accepted as fit to compete at the relevant Horse Inspection
- For the purpose of the Team classification only: penalties for the non-completion of a test for any reason, Dressage =100 points, Cross Country = 150, Jumping = 100
- Rules for the Individual event remain unchanged
The proposed format changes will go to the IOC Executive Board for approval in February 2017.
Eleven out of 107 National Federations represented voted against the proposal: Albania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland.
“This was a really important vote for the future of our sport if we are to increase universality in accordance with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said after the vote.
“We need to increase the number of participating nations at the Olympic Games but within our existing quota of 200. Reducing team members to three per nation was probably the only way to boost the number of flags. Of course this now has to be approved by the IOC, but it opens the door to countries that previously could only see the Olympics as a distant dream.
“There were some National Federations that didn’t agree with the proposal, but that’s all part of the democratic process. Now we need to work together to make this a success.”