Amanda Gee, Editor of Eventing writes: The face of international eventing has changed forever due to a ground-breaking decision made by the International Olympic Committee this week.
The IOC has announced a move to implement a new reduced format for horse trials in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The announcement, which took place a meeting of the IOC Executive Board in Mexico, followed a proposal put forward by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), which suggested that the competition should be runas a shorter, CIC competition (taking out the roads and tracks phases, and running the show jumping before the cross-country phase), in response to criticism of the CCI competition currently used.
The IOC objected to the sport in its current format on the grounds that the three-day event is too expensive to run, that after each Olympics countries are left with unwanted facilities, that it is considered to be too exclusive, and that there are safety issues surroundingthe sport.
FEI committee member and director of Burghley horse trials, Bill Henson, says: “These alterations are drastic and somewhat dramatic, but people need time to assimilate the change.
“The change could, however, have a big impact on the sport in terms of qualification – if the Olympic competition is a CIC, then I think qualifiying competitions will also change in time.
“It will also have an impact on breeding in the long-term, as the type of horse needed for CICs is very different to that which is ideal for CCIs.”
The IOC is currently considering the future of three-day eventing as part of the 2008 Games in Beijing.
“Our first priority must be to stay in the Olympics -almost at any price,” says Bill. “We want this to be a world sport, but a large majority of countries that compete are only able to do so because eventing is an Olympic sport and they receive government funding.”
For more information on the Olympic debate, see the October 2002 issue of Eventing., or visit www.britisheventing.com
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