On 22 November 2016, the FEI General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed format changes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, which will now go to the IOC Executive Board for final approval in 2017.
Under the new proposals, the number of athletes in national teams will be reduced to three, and the drop score, which previously allowed for a team’s worst score to be discarded, will be removed. The use of a reserve combination for teams will remain in place, but will be even more important and will be a key element in ensuring horse welfare.
A total of 11 of National Federations, out of 107 represented, voted against the proposal – Albania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland.
Voting on the proposed sport-specific changes to the three individual Olympic disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing – was unanimously in favour. The vote on the Paralympic formats saw one National Federation - Great Britain – against the proposed changes.
“This was a really important vote for the future of our sport if we are to increase universality in accordance with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020”, FEI President Ingmar De Vos said after the vote. “We need to increase the number of participating nations at the Olympic Games but within our existing quota of 200. Reducing team members to three per nation was probably the only way to boost the number of flags. Of course this now has to be approved by the IOC, but it opens the door to countries that previously could only see the Olympics as a distant dream. There were some National Federations that didn’t agree with the proposal, but that’s all part of the democratic process. Now we need to work together to make this a success.”
The proposed changes are detailed below:
- Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
- Each directly qualified team may bring a reserve rider/horse combination, or horse only
- One individual per nation not represented by a qualified team (no composite teams)
- Determine Team medals solely through results of Grand Prix Special (no longer a combination of Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special scores)
- Introduce new “heat system” (including “lucky losers”) for Grand Prix: 18 individuals to qualify from Grand Prix to Grand Prix Freestyle (best two from each of the 6 heats, plus the next 6 with the best overall results)
- 8 top teams (24 starters) from Grand Prix to qualify for Grand Prix Special
- Introduce new system for starting order in Grand Prix
- Conduct Grand Prix Special to music
Delegates from 76 National Federations were on-site for the vote, with 31 other National Federations voting by proxy.
Timeline for finalisation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic formats:
- February 2017 – FEI proposals go to the IOC Executive Board
- May 2017 – IOC Programme Commission make recommendations to the IOC Executive Board
- July 2017 – IOC Executive Board decides on events and quotas
- November 2017 – FEI General Assembly in Montevideo (URU) finalises the proposal for qualification procedures (quota distribution and eligibility)