Radical Changes Announced at FEI GA

San Juan, Puerto Rico -  Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing in the Olympic Games will look a whole lot different in 2020 if the FEI goes ahead next year with the proposals made today at the FEI General Assembly in Puerto Rico.  Radical changes to the competition formats in all three disciplines were put forward to delegates attending the second of two special sessions today, ahead of tomorrowâ??s General Assembly. If most of what was proposed goes ahead, the future is three-person teams with substitutions, no drop scores and the team final replacing the individual final as the dénouement for all disciplines.

â??To change or be changedâ?? was the message sent by IOC president Thomas Bach to global sports federations nearly a year ago when the IOC unanimously approved Agenda 2020, the strategic road map for the future of the Olympic Movement. FEI President Ingmar de Vos said the IOC made it absolutely clear that equestrian sport, like any other Olympic sport, had to make every effort to be contemporary and unique. â??The changes we are looking at today are not changes for changeâ??s sake â?? they are to safeguard our future. The IOC has made it clear it expects changes.â? Mr Bachâ??s visit to FEI headquarters recently left no doubt of that, he noted.

While equestrian sport is on the competition program in Tokyo 2020 â??there is no guarantee our events will be retained post 2020,â? De Vos added.

The competition formats announced by each of the discipline committee chairmen were in response to that challenge. Increasing â??flagsâ? (the number of nations participating) and TV viewing numbers, as well as adding excitement, were primary considerations in their efforts to revamp the competitions in line with the objectives of the Olympic Agenda 2020.

Frank Kemperman, Dressage Committee chair, outlined a number of alternatives for the dressage competition including heats to determine finalists, the ability for teams to bring in a reserve and a team final featuring a Grand Prix Special test set to music.

Jumping chair John Maddenâ??s committeeâ??s proposal was contingent on a liberal substitution policy he said Bach supported.  Their scenario sees 20 teams of three, 20 reserve combinations, 15 individuals, no drop scores (Bach apparently called the practice â??ridiculousâ??) and an individual final on day two. The team competition would see two rounds with 10 teams making the final on a third day of competition.

A revised Eventing format would no longer take place over four days, according to Guiseppe Della Chiesa, chair of the Eventing committee. Eventing would also see teams of three with reserves, no drop scores, shorter (5 minute) dressage tests and possibly a show jumping phase run as a team relay with team riders starting one after another resulting in a combined score. He also asked delegates to consider a name change from Eventing to the more descriptive, Equestrian Triathlon.