Eventing not yet confirmed for 2028 Olympics – with just weeks to decide on new format

  • Eventing has just weeks to decide on a new competition format for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, after the FEI was hit with an unexpected deadline.

    The discipline is not yet confirmed for the 2028 Games, although leading figures have “confidence” it will be. The news comes as a surprise given an FEI press release in October stated that the “equestrian disciplines” in Paris will be on the sports programme for Los Angeles.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also informed the FEI before Christmas that it has until 1 March to come up with a new format. In short, the IOC and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), which is part of the IOC, would like medals to be awarded after cross-country, as this is the sport’s biggest draw.

    An FEI spokesman confirmed to H&H that no changes are planned in showjumping and dressage, except for minor improvements, which can be decided after Paris.

    In a pre-recorded video message, FEI president Ingmar de Vos told the 2024 FEI online eventing seminar today (20 January) that eventing being included in the 2028 programme is subject to finding a venue that accommodates all equestrian disciplines on one site, including the cross-country phase.

    At previous Games, including Tokyo, the cross-country has at times been held at a satellite venue, which comes with “exponential costs” and is logistically challenging.

    “I’m confident that we will be able to confirm such a venue in the coming months,” said Mr de Vos, urging everyone to “keep an open mind” with regards to a new format.

    “But we also are committed to work closely with the IOC and LA28 to reduce the costs and complexity of our equestrian events at the Games.”

    He added: “The message of the IOC president was very clear: change, or be changed.”

    Costs, venue and popularity are parameters those who follow the Olympics will already be familiar with. Broadcast and digital figures are used as a measure for popularity, which is why the FEI takes serious note when the IOC and OBS highlight the appeal of cross-country and ask the federation to consider format changes to capitalise on this.

    Several ideas were suggested, which would be similar to short-format in style, while retaining long-format distances. The first would comprise three days of competition, starting with a dressage day, followed by the team and individual showjumping phases on day two, and ending with the cross-country on the final day.

    Another would feature dressage in the morning and team showjumping in the afternoon on both the first two days, followed by cross-country on day three (where the team medals would be decided), then showjumping for the individual medals on day four. A hybrid of short format for team medals, and long format with a final showjumping day for the individuals, is favoured by the FEI eventing committee.

    FEI eventing committee chairman and Olympic gold medallist David O’Connor echoed Mr de Vos’s confidence that eventing will be confirmed for LA28 in the next couple of months. He said one of the reasons is that organisers want to announce all venues together, which is the case for many sports – not just equestrian.

    He added that the idea for a format change focuses on “how to make eventing even more attractive”.

    “OBS really likes the cross-country side of our sport, because it is usually at a venue that has been quite iconic and the pictures are always quite exciting,” said Mr O’Connor.

    “They are actually very positive about the cross-country side of eventing, so they want to increase viewer interest and increase sport ratings, which is really important in how Olympic sports are judged.

    “So they want to make it more accessible and understandable, to drive a greater appreciation, and really minimise any perception and approach from organising committees about costs.”

    FEI Olympic and eventing director Catrin Norinder said there will be “room for discussion”, adding it will provide national federations with proposed formats.

    She added that the Olympic programme and formats will only be confirmed by the IOC after Paris.

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