FEI votes in favour of format changes for Tokyo 2020

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has approved Olympic format changes that are set to allow more countries to compete at the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo.

Under the new proposals, the number of athletes in national teams will be reduced to three, and the drop score, which previously allowed for a team’s worst score to be discarded, will be removed. Currently, only a team’s top three scores count in Olympic eventing and jumping, with the fourth-best score dropped from the result.

FEI president Ingmar De Vos said that the changes will allow for more flexibility among equestrian’s Olympic quote of 200 athletes. However, the reforms did not secure full backing at today’s (Tuesday’s) general assembly meeting in the Japanese capital, with 11 of the 107 national federations represented voting against the plan.

These included equestrian powerhouses such as France, Germany and New Zealand, as well as Albania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland. In other changes, team jumping will increase to 20 nations from the 15 that competed at this year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The changes are subject to approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose executive board will discuss the matter next year ahead of a final decision in July. “This was a really important vote for the future of our sport if we are to increase universality in accordance with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020,” De Vos said.

“We need to increase the number of participating nations at the Olympic Games but within our existing quota of 200. Reducing team members to three per nation was probably the only way to boost the number of flags. Of course, this now has to be approved by the IOC, but it opens the door to countries that previously could only see the Olympics as a distant dream.

“There were some national federations that didn’t agree with the proposal, but that’s all part of the democratic process. Now we need to work together to make this a success.”