Olympic agenda forces shift in thinking for horse sports

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FEI President Princess Haya told delegates at the FEI’s General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday that the Olympic movement’s Agenda 2020 programme would require a change in mindset for the horse world.

Under Agenda 2020, some 40 recommendations have been put forward in what has been described as a roadmap for the future of the Olympic Games.

“Stop for a moment thinking like national federations and FEI members and join me in thinking of the Olympic Games as a member of the IOC family [would],” Princess Haya said.

FEI secretary general Ingmar de Vos and president Princess Haya.
FEI secretary general Ingmar de Vos and president Princess Haya. © FEI Photos

“It is imperative you understand Agenda 2020 from that perspective. Once you’ve understood that, I think you will be able to fully appreciate the implications this will have on us as a family.”

One of those shifts in thinking included that the FEI had traditionally felt that every Olympic Games would bring horse sport a new permanent venue. “This is no longer the case. [In terms of infrastructure costs] excesses are no longer acceptable to a growing society,” Haya said.

“It is probably something we took for granted as a result of recent Games,” she said, but that would no longer be the case. Haya pointed to London 2012 as a great example of the use of temporary structures and venues. She also said the organisers should also “actively promote the use of existing facilities”.

One of the most important issues in the format discussion was the wish to move from a sport-based to an event-based program, she said.

“The IOC definition of an ‘event’ is a performance that results in a medal. It means that people will come to a stadium and know what they are seeing; a performance with a medal awarded at the end. I think it is a good change. It may be something we never considered because it was always done another way,” Haya said.

“We do need to make the Olympics relevant to the 21st century and exciting to young people. We can’t afford to lose the magic that the Olympics have brought to the world.”

IOC member in Japan and Honorary FEI Vice-President Tsunekazu Takeda thanked Princess Haya for her presentation. “Universality, cost effectiveness, and popularity of a sport are very important for the Olympic Games”, he said. “It is our duty to protect the three Olympic equestrian disciplines.”

Takeda is Vice-President of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organising Committee and a member of the FEI Olympic Council.

Bureau members and discipline leaders also spoke at the morning session, talking of the need to engage the public and simplify formats.

Jumping chairman John Madden said: “We must get to the Olympic Games, and we must stay at the Olympic Games, and then decide what we are going to do when we get there.”

Dressage chairman Frank Kemperman spoke of the work being done on new judging systems, which he said was promising, “and I hope we can use it for judging test events next year in freestyle”.

He spoke of other innovations, including the possibility of adding music to dressage classes other than the kur, as well as having easily understandable formats and shorter competitions.

Para-dressage chairman Ulf Wilken said a forum was planned next year to discuss the future of the discipline, and he spoke of the desire for the discipline to follow the rules of mainstream dressage.

An external audit of eventing would also take place next year, said discipline chairman Guiseppe Della Chiesa, while driving chairman Károli Fugli said new rules had been brought in through the year, and a review of para driving would be carried out by the technical committee.

Representatives from 129 national federations from around the world are represented at the gathering, with 89 in person and 40 voting by proxy.

 

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