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Horse sport to vote on rule modifications for Paris 2024 Olympics

  • A shake-up to the showjumping format, changes to minimum eligibility requirements and dropping the music from the dressage team final are among the Paris 2024 rule-change proposals.

    On 14 October, the FEI published the final draft of proposals, which will go forward for voting at the FEI general assembly next month.

    For showjumping it has been proposed to revert to holding the team competition before the individual, as at previous Olympics before the format was changed for Tokyo. The proposal has been backed by the FEI jumping committee and stakeholders, including the Swedish national federation.

    “This helps the chefs to manage their teams, make substitutions (where necessary) and always line up the freshest and readiest combinations on the way to the most demanding individual final, thus creating better competition and avoiding stress on tired horses,” said a spokesman for the Swedish national federation, when the proposal was raised.

    The jumping committee has also put forward a change to the minimum eligibility requirements (MERs), which came under the spotlight when some combinations qualified for Tokyo at shows that had been “mistakenly approved” by the FEI (news, 20 February 2020). Under the new proposals MERs must be obtained at grand prix, Nations Cup or World Cup competitions, with a minimum height of 1.55m.

    Tokyo course-builder Santiago Varela was among those to support the tightening of MERs.

    “MERs must be obtained only at CSI/CSIO4* and CSI5* therefore having all the competitors under the same conditions. Special MER competitions can’t be allowed any more,” he said.

    A clarification to an existing rule has been put forward, that combinations can achieve MERs at “selected” outdoor events up to three-star, providing the height of the course is at least 1.55m. The jumping committee also proposed that competitions counting towards MERs must meet a number of technical specifications around the number of obstacles, obstacle type and distances.

    Proposed changes to the Olympic dressage competition include raising the MER from 66% to 67%, and a review of the grand prix starting order. Previously this was based on a combination’s position in the world rankings – but it has been suggested this should be based on the athlete’s position only, based on new separate lists for riders and horses.

    There has also been discussion about the use of music for the grand prix special, the team final, in Tokyo. It was brought in to make the sport more attractive to a bigger audience. It was deemed this was “not very successful”, with many riders not bringing their own music, and judges said the differences in quality and volume could be distracting.

    “The fairest option is to remove the team test music option,” the FEI technical committee said.

    The deadline for national Olympic committees (NOCs) to gain qualification for the Paris Games across all disciplines is 31 December 2023 – and NOCs must submit a certificate of capability by 8 January 2024. This is a confirmation that at least three combinations have achieved the relevant discipline MERs.

    In eventing, three combinations must achieve a qualifying result in a CCI4*-L and a CCI4*-S, or two in a CCI4*-L, or one in a CCI5*, by the December deadline. All combinations who compete in Paris must have had one qualifying result at CCI5*, or at a CCI4*-L and a CCI4*-S, between 1 January 2023 and 24 June 2024. Under the new proposal, they must also achieve one qualifying result at four- or five-star, between 1 January and 24 January 2024.

    A discussion took place at the FEI sports forum in April around reducing the number of participants who qualify for the individual eventing final from 25 to 20, but this will remain at 25. A new proposal has been suggested that should any of the qualified combinations withdraw before the start of the individual final, they will not be replaced.

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