Nov 23, 2016

USEF Votes "Yes" To Landmark Olympic Format Changes

By USEF - Press Release
he 2016 FEI General Assembly. Photo courtesy of the FEI.

In yesterday’s historic vote, the FEI General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed format changes to the Olympic Games, including limiting nations to a three-member team. These changes will now go to the IOC Executive Board for final approval in 2017.

Of the 107 National Federations represented at the Assembly, only 11 voted against the proposal. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) voted in support of these changes.

"After careful assessment with much involvement from key stakeholders, we came to the conclusion that without the change in Olympic format, it was likely that one of our Olympic disciplines would be dropped from future Olympic Games. This would be unacceptable," said USEF President-Elect Murray Kessler. "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) challenged our International Federation to present format changes that would increase relevance among fans and broaden global participation or risk being eliminated. These changes do just that and while we resist change, this might even make the sport more exciting."

The most notable change is the limitation of nations to a team of three athletes. In the previous format, there were four competing athletes, which gave each team a drop score. In the newly approved format, each team will consist of three athletes with no drop score, but an active reserve can be substituted into competition at the beginning of any phase of competition. According to the FEI, “The reserve combination is an important element of the proposal in order to preserve horse welfare. If a reserve combination is substituted, it will incur a penalty for the team.” They add that the exact penalty is yet to be decided, but will be finalized in the Olympic Regulations.

The USEF cited the following driving factors which ultimately drove the decision to vote "Yes" on the format changes:

  1. Keeping show jumping, dressage, AND eventing all in the Olympic Games
  2. Agreement to protect the current format for each sport at all other major championships
  3. No reduction in Team USA members as the new format includes three riders plus an ACTIVE reserve that can participate and earn medals
  4. Supporting the FEI and IOC's goal to give more countries in the world the opportunity to participate
  5. Supporting the effort to make the sport easier to understand and fan friendly (the drop score was confusing)
  6. Numerous other revisions to the details of the format changes that were made as the result on constructive dialogue in the various committees and forums leading up to the General Assembly vote

These changes, along with other highlights from the General Assembly, will be reviewed at the USEF Annual Meeting, January 11-14, 2017 in Lexington, Ky.

The complete list of changes to eventing includes:

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • One reserve combination per team will be allowed. The reserve combination is an important element of the proposal in order to preserve horse welfare. If a reserve combination is substituted, it will incur a penalty for the team. The exact penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
  • Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team
  • Order of tests to remain unchanged (1st Dressage; 2nd Cross Country; 3rd Jumping Team; 4th Jumping Individual)
  • Olympic Eventing to take place over three days (Dressage test reduced to one day)
  • Technical level of the three tests to be defined as the “Olympic level”: Dressage and Jumping 4*; Cross Country: 10-minute optimum time, 45 jumping efforts, and 3* technical difficulty
  • Qualification of athletes/horses to be achieved on the same Cross Country technical level to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the FEI Independent Audit in Eventing
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: any horse/athlete combinations not completing a test can continue to the next test if accepted as fit to compete at the relevant Horse Inspection
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: penalties for the non-completion of a test for any reason, Dressage =100 points, Cross Country = 150, Jumping = 100
  • Rules for the Individual event remain unchanged

These changes have a few more steps before they are finalized. The proposals will go in front of the IOC Executive Board in February of 2017, the IOC Programme Commission will make their recommendations to the IOC Executive Board by May, before the IOC makes their decisions on events and quotas. Finally, the FEI General Assembly will meet again in November of 2017 in Motevideo to finalize the proposal.

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