Eventers meet to discuss Olympic future of the sport

  • Top riders and delegates from the main 23 eventing nations are to meet in London today (Tuesday, 23 February) to agree and present a formula for their sport’s future in the Olympic Games.

    The international eventing community has taken this unprecedented step because there is still no consensus among riders, just two weeks before the FEI eventing committee is due to finalise its proposals to put before the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    “One achievement so far is that there will not be separate contests for team and individuals, but there are still many sticking points,” said Bruce Haskell, president of the Eventing Riders Association.

    The FEI has been discussing the 2020 Agenda for more than a year.

    Equestrianism is one of several sports asked by the IOC to increase its public and media appeal, involve more countries, and make scoring easier to understand.

    British Eventing (BE) recently published the recommendations of its own working party (news, 4 February).

    The timing of the meeting is critical — the FEI Eventing Committee meet in early March and the FEI Sports Forum where the Olympic Formats of all equestrian disciplines will be presented is on the 5 April,” added Mr Haskell.

    “ERA International feels very strongly that there is a gap within FEI governance that allows key decisions and rule changes to be made by the National Federations as a whole and not by the Eventing components of those groups.”

    Among other points, principal eventing nations are understood to disagree strongly over the order of cross-country and jumping; whether there should be teams of four riders, which is the preference of BE, or just three with no discard score; and whether “composite” teams can be fielded comprising riders qualified only as individuals — this option is allowed in Olympic eventing at present.

    There is also confusion about how Olympic eventing can be staged at the highest four-star level if many countries in which eventing is still a “young” sport are to participate.

    Mr Haskell added the meeting will be the first time key personnel representing the eventing-specific views of National Federations have met.

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    “Attendance at the meeting ranges from the super powers of modern eventing through to developing eventing nations, so conclusions drawn from the meeting will be representative and difficult to ignore,” he said.

    “Change will never suit all stakeholders. We must all look to find a balance between the role of eventing in the evolving nature of sport as medium of entertainment and the traditional values of our unique sport.”

    BE has contributed towards the organisation of the meeting, which it is hosting, and the European Equestrian Federation is also collaborating.

    It will be chaired by BE’s David Holmes.

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