The 2022 Fédération Equestre Internationale Sports Forum got underway today in Lausanne, Switzerland, with news that equestrian sports will be condensed into 11 days with no night events for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but no organizing committee has been named yet to assist in that planning. The two-day summit, which is being held in person for the first time since 2019 and is also being livestreamed, is addressing planning for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, as well as rule change proposals for dressage, eventing and para-dressage.
But it began by addressing the crisis in Ukraine.
“It was my intention not to mention and repeat myself again regarding the impact of the different pandemics on our sport and society, as we believe we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we need to focus on the future,” said FEI President Ingmar De Vos in his opening remarks. “But with the conflict in Ukraine, it feels like for three years in a row we are running from one crisis to another, and I really wonder in what a crazy world we are living today.”
De Vos acknowledged the presence of the Ukrainian delegation at the Sports Forum, and noted that discussions would continue on the margins of the forum as to how the international community of equestrian sport can continue to support the horses and equestrians of Ukraine. De Vos also commended the solidarity and support of national federations and the coordination efforts undertaken by the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation and its Charity Foundation, in conjunction with the European Equestrian Federation and the FEI.
“As we face the hardship and suffering of the Ukrainian people, we are reminded of what is important and how we—even as a sport—can provide support and solidarity in times of great need,” De Vos said.
The first session of the day covered the big-picture regulations and deadlines for Paris that will apply to the four Olympic and Paralympic disciplines. FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI director of Olympic Games and eventing Catrin Norinder, and FEI deputy legal director Áine Power led the session.
“Before we dig into the meat of the matter, I think it’s very important that we update our community on the information that we received from the [International Olympic Committee] a couple of weeks ago, and that is concerning the evaluation for the program for [the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games],” Ibáñez said.
“It’s important that we bear this in mind when we’re discussing the Olympic regulations for Paris 2024. The first evaluation theme that [the IOC is] considering for the program for LA 2028 is cost and complexity—how complex and how much does the sport discipline cost to deliver at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games,” she continued. “They will be looking at this when they are including the disciplines for LA 2028.”
Ibáñez said the IOC also confirmed that the total number of athletes for the Los Angeles Games will be capped at 10,500, the same number as Paris.
As for Paris, the equestrian disciplines will take place over 11 days. Dressage, eventing and show jumping will be sharing a venue with modern pentathlon. The most notable change from previous Olympics is that all the eventing dressage will take place on a single day, a change that was approved by the General Assembly in 2016.
Norinder noted that there will be no arena floodlights in Paris, so the competition is limited to daylight hours. The three disciplines must juggle their competition days, ring familiarization and horse inspections within the 11-day allotted time frame.
To do this, the proposed competition schedule includes holding the first days of show jumping competition on the rest days before the Grand Prix Special and freestyle, and then returning to show jumping for the final two days of the schedule.
“It’s a puzzle,” Norinder said. The proposed schedule is still to be confirmed with the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee and the IOC, once approved by the FEI General Assembly.
Matters are complicated by the fact that an equestrian organizer has not yet been named for Paris, although it’s hoped that an individual will be named by late May, Norinder said, in response to several questions about the logistics of the schedule from Will Connell, the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s director of sport.
“The problem is we don’t have an organizing committee, so we have no one to talk to, for the moment, on this,” Ibáñez explained. “As soon as we have someone to talk to, we can start coming up with more clear plans. But in the meantime, this is what we have, regrettably.”
Norinder said the FEI will be looking at ways to make the eventing dressage test more efficient, and that the one day for dressage will be tested in advance of the Olympic Games.
The sports forum continues Tuesday with a focus on full revisions of the FEI veterinary regulations, FEI eventing, dressage and para-dressage rules, as well as a session on FEI event standards.
The full program and details about the 2022 FEI Sports Forum are available to view and download here, along with the supporting documents and information on panel members.