Tokyo 2020 countdown: Olympic team slots lost and cross-country course shortened *H&H Plus*

  • Changes to qualified teams and the eventing cross-country course are among the latest developments as the year of the 2020 Olympics dawns.

    Two countries have lost their Tokyo Olympic Games team spots after failing to meet the qualification criteria by the 31 December deadline.


    Brazil and South Africa both secured provisional dressage team tickets at the Pan Am Games and the Group F region qualification event. But neither had enough riders meeting the minimum eligibility requirements by the end of 2019 to hold on to those places.

    This means each nation may now only send one individual rider, while the team places have been reallocated in line with world rankings as composite teams, allowing France and Austria to send three competitors each.

    With further qualification hoops to jump through, there remains a chance that the line-up of nations could yet change before the Games (see below).

    The reallocation of places follows less than two weeks after the news that Canada had lost its showjumping team place, owing to a positive drug test by rider Nicole Walker at the Pan Ams (news, 27 December). Ms Walker states the positive test was caused by the consumption of coca leaf and is appealing the decision.

    Canada’s place has been reallocated to Argentina.

    Shortened cross-country course

    The Olympic cross-country course will be shortened and started earlier to mitigate effects of heat and humidity on horses and riders, the FEI has confirmed, after extensive research at the test event last August.

    The statement read: “The FEI has decided to shorten the cross-country course to approximately eight minutes, allowing for a course of about 4,500 metres. The decision to shorten the course, based on advice from the veterinary and eventing committees, has been approved by the FEI board.

    “Tokyo 2020 has agreed the start will be between 7:30 and 8am to enable an 11am finish, the time identified as the start of the potentially highest wet bulb globe temperature readings.”

    A final decision on the exact start time is expected this month.

    “Welfare of human and equine athletes is at the heart of the FEI’s decision-making, and these decisions have been taken to allow nations to optimise performances in the Tokyo summer climate,” added the statement.

    “Further technical details on the eventing cross-country course will be released in due course.”

    High demand for paralympic tickets

    International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons has predicted Tokyo 2020 will be the first Paralympics to sell out ahead of the opening ceremony.

    “With around 2.3 million tickets, it is mind-blowing that an unprecedented 3.1 million tickets were requested from the Japanese public during the first Paralympic ticket window,” he said.

    “With the second window for Japanese residents between 15 and 29 January and international tickets still available via CoSport, I expect demand for tickets to remain at the highest level.”

    He added more broadcasters will be showing more sports than ever, including para dressage.

    “Twenty-one disciplines from 19 sports will be broadcast live from Tokyo, far more than the 12 sports shown during Rio 2016,” said Mr Parsons.

    “With more broadcasters and sports, Tokyo 2020 will smash all viewing records, exceeding the cumulative audience of 4.1 billion people who enjoyed Rio 2016.

    “As well as increased coverage, more than 3,000 media applied to attend and cover the Games. This is almost double the number that covered Rio 2016 and has meant that for the first time in Paralympic history we have had to limit the number who can attend.”

    Important deadlines

    The next major deadline is for horses to be registered with the nationalities of the countries for which they will be competing.

    In essence, all Olympic horses must be registered as property of owners of the same nationality as the athlete who will ride them at the Games by 15 January.

    Nations have until 3 February to confirm team places, and 17 February for individual spots.

    Longlists must be submitted by 10 April, while horses and riders have until 1 June to meet minimum eligibility requirements.

    The final entries are by 11.59pm Tokyo time on 6 July.

    For the Paralympics, the deadline for nominated entries is 19 June, with the final list entered by 3 August.

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