The eventing competition at the 2024 Paris Olympics will not be put through a full trial run, as was revealed at last week’s FEI Eventing Forum.
Previous iterations of the Olympics have seen a full test event – generally staged a level below the Olympics themselves, which is held at a modified four-star level — take place a year or so prior to the Games, allowing officials to fine-tune any potential issues with the field of play and backstage logistics. Test events also allow national governing bodies to get a sense of the venue, which can impact selection and preparation decisions over the following year, while in many cases, the buzz and excitement of an Olympic test event also draws in enthusiastic spectators, plenty of whom come without any prior familiarity with the sport.
Next year’s Olympics organisers, though, have cited cost-cutting measures as the reason behind their decision not to host a tradition test event. In many ways, it comes as little surprise: the equestrian disciplines are due to be held in the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of France’s most significant tourist attractions, and while we can only speculate about the costs involved with both building the temporary arenas and closing down part of the site to visitors for the duration of the test event, they’d likely be significant.
Instead, GL Events Equestrian Sport, who were appointed as the organisers for the equestrian disciplines at last month’s FEI General Assembly, will host a cross-country test event at Versailles, which will be open to national federations and national Olympic committees. That will offer them a chance to ensure the footing, and the planned pontoon crossings, work as intended, as well as the proposed layout of warm-up and cool-down areas. The arena-based phases, however, will be held in the spring of 2024 at established competition venue Fontainebleau, which will be outfitted with the same footing earmarked for Versailles, and will be used to ensure the officials are au fait with their tasks during the Games themselves.
It was also announced at the FEI Eventing Forum that the first horse inspection will not be open to the public as it ordinarily is. For more of the latest from Paris, check out our summary of last month’s General Assembly, complete with proposed course maps.
EN’s pre-coverage of the Paris Olympics in 2024 is brought to you with support from Zoetis — Long Live the Horse.