Riders agree to disagree about jumping Olympic format

Por Horse TV
NEWS | Jumping

Riders have conflicting perspectives regarding the three horse-and-rider combinations per team Olympic formula. 

Three months after the Tokyo Olympic Games, the FEI’s proposal for the qualification system of the 2024 Olympic Games will be reviewed with priority by the FEI Hybrid General Assembly. Before the General Assembly taking place this week in Antwerp, Belgium, the FEI Jumping Committee has already stated they have agreed to respect the Olympic formula with three horse-and-rider combinations per team.

This has sparked complaints and concerns by various show jumping riders such as Steve Guerdat, Ludger Beerbaum, Mclain Ward, Nick Skelton or Rodrigo Pessoa who have criticised this new system introduced in the Tokyo Olympics. Amongst their concerns, horse welfare is one of the biggest. 

“I like to believe that I should not be here, because you should represent us riders as national federations,” started Steve Guerdat in the name of the International Jumping Riders Club at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly. 

“We all owe the past generations that made our sport as great as it is today, to try and save our sport. I personally want to be able to look at my young daughter, look her in the eye in a few years, and at least say that I tried everything to the last battle - to save the sport that I love above everything,” 

Rodrigo Pessoa disagrees with the new formula

Rodrigo Pessoa has also raised his concerns regarding horse welfare with this new format. According to him, the Jumping Committee has the job to listen to stakeholders, gather information and base their decisions with the best recommendations possible. However, this is not the case as he knows that two of the members are in favour of having four riders and a drop-score, so it is not a unanimous decision. 

He does not understand the argument behind the competition is hard to understand when there are four riders and the worst score is scratched:

“When it comes to making the sport more understandable, I have to point out that it’s not complicated to follow a team competition format with four riders where the worst score is scratched off and then you have a total score. To me, saying it’s difficult to understand is a lame excuse. Have you ever tried to follow cricket?”

Additionally, the American, French, German and Irish national federations highlighted horse welfare as a concern in their evaluation. The FEI Jumping Committee’s report does not address these concerns to the FEI Hybrid General Assembly. 

Benefits of the three-rider system

In the report sent by the Jumping Committee they state they follow recommendations set forth by the IOC. Also, they are open to discuss the best possible formats that can be found within the three athletes per team formula. 

According to IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, there are positive results of the changes the FEI made, and McConnell has gone on to describe the number of benefits implemented after the changes:

  • i. A direct increase in universality (or flags) within the Equestrian team events, which in turn engages with wider audiences for the event and greater opportunities for promotion and engagement in a wider number of territories. 
  • ii. Each result being critical for the result of the event, aligning with the formats in place across nearly all other sports and events
  • iii. Being more understandable for the global audience, while showcasing the skills and performances of each individual rider and horse combination. 
  • iv. Ensuring a more fair and equal level playing field for all participants NOCs rather than favoring the larger National Federations and NOCs. 

The FEI Hybrid General Assembly continues in Antwerp to decide on FEI rules and regulations, including the Paris 2024 qualification systems. Tomorrow, votes will be cast at the General Assembly. 

Do you agree with the Jumping Committee about maintaining the three-rider team members formula, or do you think the four-rider system should be reinstaurated? Leave us a comment on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

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