Baku. Azerbaijan. December 14, 2014–FEI Secretary General Ingmar de Vos has been elected president of the FEI to succeed HRH Princess Haya. De Vos, who has been FEI Secretary General since 2011, captured 98 votes in the first round of the election at the FEI General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, easily defeating his three rivals for the required 2/3rds majority. Former Olympian, Frenchman Pierre Durand received 21 votes while British veterinarian and FEI vice-president, John McEwen, and Swiss businessman, Pierre Genecand, received six votes apiece. A further candidate, Denmark’sÂ Ulf Helgstrand withdrew from the contest hours before the General Assembly.
The 51-year-old De Vos told delegates that he was â??overwhelmed and honoredâ? by the support and confidence shown him by Â those representing the worldâ??s Â national equestrian federations and that he would work hard to â??keep unityâ? and â??preserve Princess Hayaâ??s legacy.â? He paid tribute to her and to his mentor, fellow Belgian Jacky Buchmann.
â??I had hoped Princess Haya would have stayed,” said De Vos. “Â I cannot explain what she has done for us â?? she has led, innovated, modernized and guided us. She has left us a great legacy which is our responsibility to preserve.â?
Before joining the FEI, De Vos Â served as Chef de Mission for the Belgian team at all World Equestrian Games from 1990 to 2010. He joined the Belgian Equestrian Federation as managing director in 1990, serving as secretary general from 1997 to 2011. He was also inaugural secretary general of the European Equestrian Federation from 2010 to 2011.
The presidential election wasnâ??t the only item on the agenda in Baku. Before the election, outgoing president and Â IOC member Princess Haya tried her best to explain the 40 recommendations that made up the International Olympic Committeeâ??s Agenda 2020, and the possible implications for equestrian sport. The series of reforms were adopted by IOC members at Decemberâ??s Extraordinary Session in Monte Carlo.
Haya called the 2020 Agenda a strategic roadmap that was â??excitingâ? and would impact all international federations. As such, she suggested the FEI would need to embrace the big picture going forward and â??play our part in safeguarding the future of the most valuable single event in sports.â? The recommendations demanded a â??change in mindsetâ? and a renewed effort and acceptance that equestrian sport would need constant updating to remain relevant.
The most pertinent reforms for equestrian sport were the most highly debated, she told the representatives of 131 national federations.
Changes to the Olympic bidding process in order to make the Games more affordable to candidate cities were significant for equestrian sports. Temporary venues, like Greenwich in 2012 would become the norm in future she said. Attempting to forge a permanent equestrian legacy where none had existed was no longer part of the Olympic parcel. Instead the IOC will promote the maximum use of existing facilities or the use of temporary and demountable venues.
For reasons of sustainability, the IOC also endorsed the idea of organizing preliminary competitions or even entire sports or disciplines outside host cities, and in extreme cases, in different countries. â??This is very good news for us,â? said the princess. â??Transport and quarantine have been a problem for us in the past but now the IOC has introduced some flexibility and alternatives.â?
While the maximum use of existing facilities will reduce costs for the organizers, it was important that equestrian sports â??adapt our requirements to what is necessary and practical.â? She suggested the necessity of keeping the â??specificityâ? of the sport â??in-house.
â??We donâ??t want to be the sport that needs the most requirements,â? she said. â??We have the ability to manage all the details ourselves.â?
The IOCâ??s move away from a sports based programme to an events based programme would also have consequences for equestrian sport, according to the princess. In the future the IOC will be looking for â??performancesâ? which end with a medal ceremony. At the moment Haya said equestrian sport has less â??performancesâ? per event than is desirable.
While Haya did say the IOC was â??not asking any international federations to rushâ? into making format changes, it was obvious that the FEIâ??s technical committees needed to do everything they can to comply with the IOCâ??s reforms.
â??Iâ??m convinced weâ??ll stay in the Olympic Programme but there is no room for complacency,â? Haya warned. There may be some traditions and hard held beliefs that may need to be sacrificed. â??We will need to see whatâ??s best and our place in the Olympic Games must be top, top priority.â?