Pace picked up on Tokyo plans and preparations *H&H Plus*

  • As work goes on to ensure a Covid-safe Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will run next year, British equestrianism also has its funding for the Paris Games confirmed. H&H finds out more and reports on the 2024 Games’ quotas

    WORK is ongoing to manage the equestrian logistics within new Covid safety measures for Tokyo.

    Joint guidelines have been issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo organisers to minimise numbers in the athlete village. These include limiting athletes’ time in the village to no more than five days ahead of their event and leaving within 48 hours.

    “We think this is absolutely necessary, because we need to minimise the number of residents in the village to minimise the risk of Covid exposure. At the same time, we wanted to be balanced with the considerations about athletic performance and attendance at the opening ceremony,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

    Planning is under way to ensure riders are not adversely affected by the restrictions and a range of options is on the table.

    “The FEI is working with the Tokyo organising committee to ensure equestrian athletes can arrive and depart and stay in the Olympic village in line with horse flight arrivals and departures, and will not be restricted to the five days prior to competition,” an FEI spokesman told H&H. “This will also apply to grooms staying in the grooms’ village.”

    British Equestrian (BEF) eventing performance manager Dickie Waygood said planning for Tokyo is “picking up the pace”.

    “There will be added complications as we navigate Covid restrictions, but we will plan for a number of scenarios,” he told H&H.

    “We have good people who can adapt and innovate to ensure conditions for athletes, horses and grooms are optimal.”

    UK Sport confirmed to British Equestrian on 18 December that its funding for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is secure.

    But equestrian sport is facing a 22% drop in funding for its Lottery-funded UK Sport World Class programmes for Paris.

    A total of £11,085,964 is earmarked by UK Sport for the World Class programmes for the Olympic equestrian disciplines in the build-up to Paris 2024, compared to £12,541,195 ahead of Tokyo. This is a £1,455,231 drop.

    Para dressage funding has also been cut, with £3,011,243 available for Paris compared to £3,294,056 for Tokyo.

    Equestrian sport is not alone, with 14 of 18 Olympic sports and six of 18 Paralympic sports receiving less money this cycle.

    The BEF said the Olympic disciplines have been awarded a confirmed £2.77m in year one, while para dressage has been granted £753,000, a reduction of about 22%.

    “The way UK Sport delivers funding from Government and the National Lottery has been reviewed, with a new strategy to support more sports in becoming successful and engaging with the public,” said a BEF statement. “Their funding has received an overall uplift despite the economic circumstances, reflecting the importance of sport and activity to the nation.”

    BEF interim chief executive Iain Graham thanked UK Sport for its “belief in our sports”.

    “We have been realistic in our expectation due to the financial situation overall, so this is better than anticipated and should be seen as a positive result in the circumstances,” he said.

    “This is still a sizeable investment and I’m grateful to the public who play the National Lottery, which in turn allows us to turn funding into performance and inspire the next generation.”

    Road to Paris

    THE funding announcement follows positive news that all equestrian disciplines have been confirmed for Paris 2024. The full quota of 200 combinations and six medal chances are untouched.

    “This is also a token of appreciation for the efforts the FEI and the equestrian community to increase the fan base and improve digital figures for our sport,” said FEI president Ingmar de Vos. “We really appreciate that the IOC didn’t touch our quota as we knew they needed to reduce the overall Games-wide quota to 10,500 athletes, but our sport has grown so much that a reduction would have been detrimental to the universality of our competitions.”

    “The news that we have full numbers for Paris is very welcome,” Dickie told H&H. “Equestrian sport embraces the Olympic values particularly with men and women competing on equal terms and we look forward to taking up our places.”

    You might also be interested in…