The need for equestrian sport at the Olympic Games to be understandable to the public was emphasised on the opening day of the second FEI Sports Forum in Switzerland yesterday.
Quota changes and qualifications for the next Olympic and Paralympic Games were also at the forefront of discussion.
FEI President Princess Haya welcomed close to 300 delegates to the forum, at the International Management Development Institute in Lausanne. Attendees at the forum included representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Federations, riders and trainers clubs, event organisers, sponsors, welfare organisations and media.
“This diversity means that we will all benefit from different viewpoints and insights during our discussions over the next two days and that is exactly what we sought to achieve when we created the FEI Sports Forum,” Princess Haya said.
The first session of the forum was devoted to Olympic and Paralympic Games, with National Federations and stakeholders invited to review and participate in open discussions on changes to the three Olympic equestrian disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing – and for Paralympic Dressage for the 2016 Rio Games, as well as harmonisation of the rules across the three Olympic disciplines.
FEI Secretary General, Ingmar De Vos opened the session with a debrief on the London 2012 Olympic Games. He spoke of the importance of having equestrian sport back at the heart of the Olympics, complimenting LOCOG on the success of the Games and highlighting the close team work between LOCOG and the FEI. The Secretary General commented on the new global dimension of the first truly social media Games. And a completely clean Games was the best possible endorsement of the FEI’s Clean Sport Campaign, he said.
The FEI, together with LOCOG and the IOC, has conducted an extensive post-Games internal debrief, which will be shared with future organisers, and the FEI is now in the final phase of appointing a Games coordinator, who will work on future Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as World Equestrian Games and major championships.
Christophe Dubi, IOC Sports Director and Deputy Olympic Games Executive Director, also spoke about the success of London 2012, from a media and television perspective and for producing the best spectator figures ever achieved, with ticket sales at 97% overall and more than 99% for the equestrian events at Greenwich.
He was full of praise for the passionate and unified equestrian community, and confirmed that equestrian is part of the 25 sports recommended by the IOC Executive Board to be included on the core programme for 2020 that will be voted en bloc at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires (ARG) next September. He also spoke about the importance of harmonisation across the disciplines to make equestrian sport more readily understood.
“Harmonisation is very important from an IOC perspective and for the general public,” he said. “You need to make that effort to make your sport easier to understand. You have to think about how to present your sport in the best way. Sport presentation has become a key asset, and the branding of your competition is as important as the sports presentation,” he said.
“That may be seen as a revolution inside the sport, but from the outside it’s seen as evolution, and it’s central to the development of the sport.”