In five months the first horse will be cantering down centerline at the 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo, Japan. In recent weeks there have been several announcements regarding details for the Games to catch up on and there are several important dates to put in your calendar.
The full timetable for the Olympics was released in mid-February including the time for the horse inspections and the start time change for the cross-country. It was announced that the cross-country start time would move up 45 minutes to enable an 11:00 a.m. finish. This is due to the anticipation of high heat and humidity. This decision was made after the Tokyo test event last summer and the results of the FEI official climate impact study and horse monitoring project. Other sports have had changes as well due to the heat with the marathon and race-walking competitions moving to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, where it is cooler, and the times changing for the triathlon.
In addition to the new start time, the cross-country course was shortened to approximately 8 minutes and 4,500 meters. “The welfare of both human and equine athletes is at the heart of the FEI’s decision-making process and these decisions have been taken to allow competing nations to optimize their performances in the Tokyo summer climate,” said the FEI in a statement.
Eventing is the second of the three equestrian disciplines with pure dressage starting on July 25 and jumping on August 3. The 2020 Olympics get underway with the opening ceremony on Friday, July 24.
2020 Olympics Eventing Schedule
Thursday, July 30
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. – First Horse Inspection
Friday, July 31
8:00 – 10:30 a.m and 5:30 – 8:10 p.m. – Dressage (44 pairs)
Saturday, August 1
8:00 – 10:30 a.m. – Dressage (21 pairs)
Sunday, August 2
7:45 – 11:15 a.m. – Cross-Country
Monday, August 3
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Second Horse Inspection
5:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Team Show Jumping and Individual Qualifier
8:45 – 9:45 p.m. – Individual Show Jumping (top 25 pairs)
On February 17, the FEI also updated the qualification document with the quotas for the 20 individuals. The countries who will be represented as individuals are Netherlands (2), Belgium, Spain, Russia (2), Canada (2), Chile, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, Czech Republic (2), Belarus (2), Denmark, and Austria.
Pakistan qualified for an Olympic equestrian spot for the first time and the Czech Republic and Hong Kong, which have both qualified for an individual place in eventing, are planning to return to the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008. “The new formats have opened the door for more nations to compete at the Games, with show jumping going up from 27 in Rio to 35 in Tokyo, dressage increasing from 25 to 30 and eventing rising from 24 to 30. In total, the number of flags has risen from 43 in Rio to 48 in Tokyo,” the FEI reported.
The 15 countries participating as teams remain the same from the October 2019 Tokyo Talk.
All riders (whether on a team or individual) must achieve their MER between January 2019 and June 1, 2020. The MER for the Olympics requires that the horse and rider as a pair have a qualifying result at:
The qualifying result must have:
If countries with a team or individual spot are unable to qualify their riders by June 1 then the spots will be reallocated according to the Qualification System.
Important Dates To Remember
All U.S. riders who want to have a chance of being selected for the U.S. Eventing Team were required to complete the Olympic Games Application by February 14. U.S. Equestrian received 24 applications and only those who applied have a chance to be named to the team.
There are three selection trials left: Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event (April 24-29), Badminton Horse Trials (May 6-10), and Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event (May 6-10).
The USEF will announce the preparation event (final outing) by no later than May 15.
By no later than June 1, three riders and horses will be named to the team along with a traveling reserve and up to the maximum number of reserves able to be nominated.
The closing date for entries due to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee is June 8.
The final athlete/horse combinations will be announced on July 6.
The declaration of starters will be announced on July 30.
“We have 13 athletes and 15 horses on our Elite and Pre-Elite training list, but I have also worked with a few athletes outside this list who are also Olympic possibilities. It is a very open book as to who will go to Tokyo, so it is up to the athletes to make sure they use every available day to make their improvements and put on the best performance at the selection trials,” said U.S. Eventing Performance Director Erik Duvander in his February 2020 update.
Stay tuned for more Tokyo Talk as we countdown the months to the Olympics!
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.