IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell (far right) pictured with the chairmen of FEI Olympic disciplines (from left): Frank Kemperman, Dressage; Giuseppe Della Chiesa, Eventing; and John Madden, Jumping. Photo: FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber.
Lausanne (SUI), 27 April 2015 – The second of the morning sessions at the FEI Sports Forum was dedicated to Olympic Agenda 2020, with IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell addressing delegates on Agenda 2020 and its relevance to the FEI.
The IOC Sports Director likened the process that the FEI is currently undergoing with its review of formats for the Olympic disciplines, to the process that the IOC has gone through with Agenda 2020. “It’s timely that we could join you while you’re focusing on the evolution of your sport, as we are on a similar pathway that the IOC and the Olympic movement have been on for the past 18 months,” he said in his opening remarks.
“The reasons you’re going through this process are similar to the reasons why we’ve gone through the process of Agenda 2020. We need to embrace change and be a driver of change, not a passenger, and we are moving forward with a completely holistic review of the IOC and the Olympic Movement.
“We have a fantastic relationship with the FEI. It’s a constructive and very open one, and it’s a relationship based on partnership, with an open and constructive dialogue.”
Kit McConnell addressed the key elements of Olympic Agenda 2020, highlighting four areas: maximizing engagement of the youth audience; achieving gender equality and promotion of women’s sport; increasing universality; and increasing the popularity and value of the Olympic Games.
On gender equality, the IOC Sports Director stressed that the IOC is working with International Federations to achieve 50% female participation in the Olympic Games and to stimulate women’s participation and involvement in sports by creating more participation opportunities at the Olympic Games. This involves encouraging the inclusion of mixed-gender team events and aiming for an equal gender balance across the Games as a whole.
“The FEI has been fully compliant with this for many years, but your International Federation is in a fairly unique position,” he said, before informing delegates that the numbers for equestrian in London were 122 men and 77 women. Across all sports at the 2012 Games, there was 44.4% female participation, with a goal of 46.1% for Rio 2016.
“Equestrian was an outstanding success in terms of ticketing at London 2012, with over 98% of all tickets sold across the three disciplines,” he said.
Strong media coverage of equestrian across all platforms at London 2012 also featured in the presentation. In broadcast, Jumping was well ahead of the other two disciplines in terms of hours of coverage, but Dressage was the most popular discipline online and in print media coverage.
He stressed that it is equally important for the IOC to embrace its traditions and history as it is for each of the sports in the Olympic Programme, and to look at how to embrace those traditions and make them a strength. He spoke of the unique nature of equestrian sport with the combination of horse and man, the passionate global community and the diversity between the disciplines. He also referred to the iconic locations used for equestrian sport.
“Not every sport can go to the places you can go to, where you can showcase your sport and the host, and engage spectators. It’s very valuable and very special for the sport.”
Winding up his presentation, Kit McConnell said: “The IOC values our partnership with FEI and its stakeholders and we are committed to a close working relationship with FEI.”
FEI President Ingmar De Vos was next to take to the lectern. “We are really excited by the reforms and recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020,” he said, “and see it as an invitation to continue a process that the FEI had already set in motion prior to the Agenda 2020 reform process.”
The FEI President spoke of gender equality in equestrian sports as “one of the key assets of our sport and a value which we are very proud of”. He also referred to the FEI’s proactive stance regarding the involvement of the Federation in delivering the Olympic Games, creating a new position within the FEI for a Director of Games & Championships which was filled by Tim Hadaway, Equestrian Sports Manager at the London Olympic Games.
“By doing this we recognised the need for more involvement and support from the International Federation to the Organising Committee in order to deliver the Games the best way possible, and this before the Olympic Agenda 2020 was established. I sincerely believe that the International Federations need to take their responsibility because in the end it’s our sport, and while the responsibility of the Organising Committee ends after the event, we need to go on and preserve our legacy.”
The FEI President then spoke about the guiding principles of the evolution of the Olympic Programme. Alongside gender equality, he highlighted increasing Games popularity and value, maximising engagement of the youth audience and increasing universality.
“I believe this is a very clear message from the IOC to the International Federations about what they have to focus on and I am happy to say that we share these principles. This is also what we have identified and one of the main reasons that we are here together at the FEI Sports Forum.”
Referring to the IOC Sports Director’s presentation around television, internet and press figures for equestrian sport, the FEI President said: “He made it very clear to us that these will be, more than ever before, the parameters on which sports will be evaluated for the future Olympic Programmes. We need to understand that these are also the parameters that become more and more important in our own sport.”
On the potential revision of formats, the FEI President talked on the two general proposals across the three Olympic disciplines: making a clear differentiation between team and individual competitions and the proposed removal of the drop score to fulfil the universality and excellence elements of Agenda 2020.
“I want to reiterate that the values of our sport are paramount in all these discussions and it’s not about changing for the sake of change,” he said. “We have our traditions, our values and our identity, but this does not mean we have to be conservative. It’s about finding the right balance and implementing the right changes without losing the essence of our sport. We need to ask ourselves, is equestrian sport too complicated for television viewers and spectators with no equestrian background? Is it global enough? Are competition formats simple to understand and exciting enough to encourage new fans?
“If our ultimate goal is modern horse sport for the modern era, then we need to address all these questions.”
In the question and answer session that followed, the issues of social media, universality, risk, International Federation groupings and revenue distribution from the Games were all debated, prior to the discipline specific sessions later in the day.
The FEI online platform is open for continued discussions on all topics raised at the FEI Sports Forum here.
Frank Kemperman, Chair of the FEI Dressage Committee, addressed the FEI Sports Forum 2015 today at the IMD in Lausanne (SUI) (FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber)
Lausanne (SUI), 27 April 2015 – The Chairs of the Dressage and Eventing Committees, Frank Kemperman and Giuseppe della Chiesa presented the proposed format changes for their individual disciplines in the two afternoon sessions at the FEI Sports Forum.
Frank Kemperman, Chair of the FEI Dressage Committee, opened the session dedicated to the future of the discipline by emphasising the fact that Dressage is in a good position, especially thanks to the Freestyle, but there were strong signals from the IOC that change is needed, particularly the sport’s appeal to the media. Kemperman outlined the discipline’s goal to be one of the main equestrian sports and highlighted the necessity to unify formats at the Olympic Games and main championships, to attract new spectators, sponsors and generate increased media interest while maintaining the core value of Dressage, the well trained horse.
“We need to come up with a single format for Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and Championships so that the public can more easily understand our sport,” Kemperman said. “Most importantly, we have to be open to innovation and learn how to make it better. There is a young public out there and we need them, they have iPhones and iPads and they follow everything ‘in the moment’ online – that’s their world, and we must be part of it,” he said.
A survey conducted in the autumn of 2014 by Repucom, which specialises in market research, media evaluation and commercial auditing, found that:
New and shorter formats are crucial, as are commentary and graphics on television
Key events should be actively used to attract new audiences
Modernisation and increased freedom of dress code and music should be actively considered
Human interest stories in media would broaden interest
Modernisation should be handled carefully in order to retain the core dressage fans
The Repucom survey also established that 86% of those surveyed are attracted to Dressage by its beauty, the relationship between horse and rider, the horse itself, as well as the sport’s grace, elegance, aesthetics and fun, with only 24% interested because of concepts including discipline, control and training.
Proposed change to Olympic Games format
Proposed changes to the Olympic Games format, which can be read in full here, were detailed for consideration by the Forum. They included teams of three or potentially two combinations, shorter tests, Pas-de-Deux or Pas-De-Trois.
The positives of these proposals were considered to be a larger number of nations, which would increase universality, and separate individual and team competitions. The removal of the drop score would increase drama and entertainment and contribute towards more unpredictable results.
The negative aspects would include a possible decrease in the level of excellence as top nations may bring fewer participants, and significant consequences for the team if a horse was eliminated or disqualified.
The proposal was also that formats for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ and European Championships should match the Olympic Games format.
Greater interaction and explanations on the sport, social media, use of music during tests other than the Freestyle, length of tests, formats, quotas, open scoring, a redefined dress code, lifestyle stories, higher prize money, more attractive prize giving ceremonies and the involvement of young riders, were outlined as likely to have a positive impact on the attractiveness of the discipline.
The presentation was followed by a lengthy discussion, with representatives of the Dressage riders, trainers and organisers’ clubs, the National Federations of Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the European Equestrian Federation, making contributions.
The main topics raised during the discussion were judging, dropping of highest and lowest scores for each movement, open versus running scores at major events, change in dress code and the increased use of social media. Protecting the welfare of the horse at all times was highlighted, and the creation of a video handbook was also discussed.
Evolution of Eventing
The evolution of Eventing was the focal point of today’s second afternoon session.
Charles Barnett, former Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, opened the session with an overview of key findings from his independent review of Eventing in the context of the Olympic Games, covering safety, risk management and widening the appeal of the sport from an on-site spectator and television viewer perspective.
Barnett’s final research project, which will thoroughly review the safety aspects of the sport through detailed analysis from FEI competitions and National Federations, will be delivered to the FEI in November of this year.
Giuseppe della Chiesa, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee, then took the stand to open the session focusing on the future of Eventing.
“Eventing is not new to change,” he said. “We have already undergone major changes relatively recently to accommodate the Olympic challenges of cost, space and complexity. As with the other Olympic disciplines, we are now proposing new ideas to meet the Agenda 2020 objectives. We need to explore ideas and be prepared to adapt if the time comes that we need to change.”
Several proposals were laid out for Eventing, with the principle of harmonising with the proposals for Jumping and Dressage in order to develop a coherent Olympic Equestrian programme. The detailed proposals are available here.
The positive aspects of the proposals were highlighted from the perspective of the IOC’s core values of universality, excellence and spectator engagement, including more country flags for teams and emphasis on the value of Team effort; shorter competitions with more exciting and open results; no extra competition days; improved qualification structure, culminating in the “Olympic dream” being more easily accessible to smaller nations.
The adverse aspects of these proposals were also made clear: less flags for Individuals; increased cost of Cross Country with courses for two levels; best riders potentially not competing in Team competition; Team members not starting if previous teammates have failed to finish.
Further points raised in this session included separating the FEI Classics 4* circuit (individuals) from Olympic and Championship circuit (teams), and increasing qualification requirements for participation on the 4* FEI Classics (individual) circuit.
Reviewing Cross Country penalties (refusals; knocking obstacle flags) and saddlery (Cross Country bits) was also raised, alongside considering the development of indoor arena Eventing, and looking closely at whether Eventing needs a globally recognisable descriptor to ensure the sport is easily understood by a mainstream audience.
Several discussions followed the Eventing session, with the Eventing Rider’s Association and the Australian, British, Dutch, German and Irish Equestrian Federations focusing on the strength of the Cross Country phase for audience impact, the need for consistent 3* or 4* Eventing, the team/individual split and the importance of underlining the FEI’s “Olympic” equestrian athletes.
The FEI Eventing Committee highlighted that all points raised during the FEI Sports Forum 2015 will be further discussed in Open Forums taking place during 2015 at the Pan American Games in Toronto (CAN), at the Olympic Groups F&G meeting at Boekolo (NED) and at the FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle in Scotland (GBR).
Delegates at today’s Eventing session were urged to continue the discussions online at the dedicated FEI online platform here.
The FEI today voted unanimously to modify the FEI statutes to allow the FEI President to receive remuneration. (FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber)
Lausanne (SUI), 28 April 2015 – The FEI today voted unanimously to modify the organisation’s Statutes to allow the FEI President to receive remuneration. The amendment to the Statutes opens up the possibility for remuneration, but the final decision still rests with the FEI Bureau, which will discuss the issue at its in-person meeting in June.
The vote was taken at an Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA) held during the FEI Sports Forum at IMD in Lausanne (SUI). A total of 59 National Federations were on-site to register their votes and there were 27 powers of attorney, giving a total of 86 valid votes. The required quorum is 67, half of the 133 National Federations plus one.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos, who opened the second day of the Sports Forum, excused himself from the EGA and handed over to FEI 1st Vice President John Madden (USA) to chair the meeting. FEI 2nd Vice President Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa (BRN) and FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender also presided.
Dr Claude Nordmann of the Swiss National Federation spoke briefly after the vote, calling for a study to be conducted on salaried positions and commenting that the contents of the study would also be useful for other International Federations.
The EGA also voted unanimously to a number of proposed changes to the Internal Regulations of the FEI, including the addition of the President to list of signatories to official documents.
Tim Hadaway, FEI Director of Games and Championships, addressing the FEI Sports Forum 2016 held at the IMD business school in Lausanne. Photo: FEI/Germain Arias-Schreiber.
Lausanne (SUI), 27 April 2015 – The FEI President Ingmar De Vos welcomed 270 delegates representing the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Federations (NFs), riders’, trainers’, and organisers’ clubs, sponsors, experts, media, guests and FEI staff to the fourth FEI Sports Forum which opened this morning at the prestigious business school IMD in Lausanne (SUI).
“We are all here because we care about our sport,” De Vos said in his opening address. “We need to be open and honest about the challenges we are facing as a sport but more than that we need to be proactive and brave enough to consider changes that will address these challenges. I remember a quote from IOC President Thomas Bach who said ‘change or be changed.’
“So it is absolutely not about change for the sake of change and by no means is there any desire to lose or replace the values and traditions of our sport. But we need to be open-minded to look at changes that can improve our sport and its legacy for the generations to come. What should be changed and how is why we are here today and I am grateful to each and everyone one of you for taking the time to participate in this Sports Forum,” he said.
Professor James Henderson, Dean of Programmes and Innovation at IMD, welcomed participants to the renowned school. “It is a great honour to host you at the wonderful institution that is the IMD,” he said. He outlined the school’s mission of educating the world’s leaders to lead transformation journeys in times of turbulence and support others to embrace change in a spirit of dialogue, openness and transparency. Professor Henderson emphasised the importance of innovation and change and wished the delegates open, inspired and pioneering discussion.
FEI World Equestrian Games™ take centre stage
The Forum’s first session was dedicated to the FEI World Equestrian Games™, with the objective of turning the microscope on the FEI’s flagship event and outlining potential changes to the FEI disciplines and competition formats in order to increase the interest of future bid cities, the public, media and broadcasters.
Tim Hadaway, FEI Director of Games and Championships, highlighted the magnitude of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy which were the biggest in the event’s 25-year history, with 74 nations represented, a record 28% increase on previous editions. Over 25,000 individuals including 900-plus athletes, 3,000 volunteers, 1,750 media and 250 officials were accredited and more than 1,000 horses competed at five venues spread across the Normandy region of France.
Highlighting the economic impact on the region, Hadaway detailed that 46,300 hotel nights had been booked through the Organising Committee and 103,500 meals were served to the accredited population. The event had also enjoyed record ticket sales with almost 575,000 tickets sold.
The event had also achieved substantial media coverage with more than 24,000 media mentions in France, 3,173 hours of global broadcast coverage, a total television audience of 330 million, and 5.5 million views on the FEI YouTube channel reached during the Games. The Games were also hugely successful on social media.
The total budget for the Games was €79.6 million, with an economic impact in Normandy estimated at €190 million and €368 million for France. The Organising Committee is expected to announce what Hadaway termed “a significant surplus” shortly.
Despite these positive developments, which had made the Games successful overall, the FEI acknowledged that some aspects of the event did not go well.
A thorough debriefing process involving numerous stakeholders had identified that holding the Games over multiple venues had resulted in complex logistics and had led to increased cost. Other problems included delays in publication of key information and issues with IT systems, transport, security, and delays in issuing of ministry paperwork on departure of horses. Insufficient amenities and services, along with cross country day traffic problems, had resulted in a level of frustration for some spectators.
The FEI has acknowledged that the FEI World Equestrian Games™ had evolved into a huge logistical and financial challenge and that, despite the many positives, the excellent sport and enjoyable atmosphere, the multiple venues had amplified complexity and stretched financial and human resources, occasionally resulting in the loss of the original concept of uniting the equestrian family.
The thorough debriefing conducted after the Games has resulted in many detailed operational recommendations, knowledge transfer programmes and increased levels of liaison between the Organising Committee and the FEI throughout the planning stages of the event. A greater definition of requirements and technical specifications is underway in order to achieve a successful and sustainable event which is attractive for future bidders.
Appetite for change
Matthew Wilson from The Sports Consultancy (TSC) presented the outcome of a detailed strategic review of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ put in place by the FEI prior to Normandy. The TSC had conducted a proactive review to understand how this flagship event could be re-aligned to meet its original objectives and to help equestrian sport continue to grow.
The outcome of this consultation process was clear: 97% of consultees were in agreement that the Games should remain as the pinnacle of the equestrian calendar, and 83% of consultees wanted to maintain all eight disciplines at the Games. It had become clear, however, that there was a strong appetite for change. The FEI’s main challenge was to ensure that the event could be delivered sustainably and continue to thrive.
A key finding of the TSC study was that the budget of the 2014 edition was considered by many as exceptionally large, and required extensive investment from the public sector. Only very few nations could afford to host such an expensive and complex event.
The following key conclusions from the TSC study were highlighted:
Reduction in the size of the competitor field.
Reduction in length of the event, nine to 10 days including two weekends was deemed the optimal length. The current format was deemed too long to sustain media and spectator interest.
Re-design of the competition formats and schedule to encourage a more compact foot print.
Development and implementation of industry leading sport presentation concepts that deliver to the non-equestrian fan needs.
Wilson concluded by outlining the clear strategic objectives the FEI should use as guidance through the proposed changes. The Games must remain differentiated from other FEI events and remain a pinnacle of the equestrian calendar; it must help grow the sport and assist with delivering the global appeal required for Olympic status; the budget for hosting the Games needs to be as attractive as possible to hosts and carry a lower financial and delivery risk; the public sector investment must be achievable for a greater number of prospective hosts through delivery of a significantly improved return on investment; the Games must be commercially effective for the FEI; and the Games must be accessible for and attractive to spectators both on venue and via broadcast to increase the stakeholder experience.
Ratings are king
Stefan Kürten from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), a professional association working on behalf of European public service broadcasters, addressed the Forum. The FEI and EBU have been partners since 1989 and the cooperation was recently extended through to 2022.
Kürten spoke about the challenges currently faced by sports in public broadcasting, including fierce competition between sports events, less airtime for sport on generalist channels, strong fragmentation of the TV market, increasing calendar conflicts, and the duration of sport events versus entertainment programmes. Sport was expensive compared to other programmes but remained strong when there was emotion, national interest and when it was broadcast live. The number of thematic channels was exploding, resulting in less sport on generalist channels, but ratings are always king, Kürten said.
The key to increased airtime on public television, which was an essential component of a successful sponsor package, was a high quality television production, telling stories, meeting the broadcasters’ needs, and a requirement for strict timetable discipline and focus.
These points were also emphasised by Uli Lacher, Owner & Founder Lacher Consulting; and Welf Konieczny and Gert Hermann representing the German public broadcasters, WDR and ARD/ZDF
In the following question and answer session between the panel and delegates, there was input from the Danish, New Zealand, United States, Australian, Austrian, British, and French Equestrian Federations and the riders’ representatives, with discussion on ticket sales, opening and closing ceremonies, compulsory qualifying elements, live television coverage and the optimum number of athletes and the optimal duration for the event.
FEI Director of Games and Championships Tim Hadaway concluded the session by explaining that the fruitful discussion had set the scene for the remainder of the Forum. All the proposals made at the Forum would be looked at closely, further consultation work would be conducted and the finalised proposals would be submitted to the vote of the General Assembly in November.
The FEI online platform is open for continued discussions on all topics raised at the FEI Sports Forum here.
Laurent Cellier, Sports Director for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, updated delegates at the Sports Forum on progress in Normandy. (Germain Arias-Schreiber/FEI).
Lausanne (SUI), 29 April 2014 – The Organising Committee of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 (23 August to 7 September) and the FEI marked the 116-day countdown to the FEI’s flagship event today in the afternoon session of the FEI Sports Forum 2014.
Two members of the Organising Committee – Laurent Cellier (FRA), Sports Director, and Pauline Laidi (FRA), Head of Services to National Federations – gave delegates a detailed update on the event preparations covering the timetable, competition venues, veterinary services, logistics, accreditations, entries, communications and key dates.
“Normandy, the land of horses and horsemen and women, will soon be welcoming 1,000 riders and horses and over 500,000 spectators for 15 days of top equestrian sport at the world’s biggest equestrian event,” Cellier said.
Underlining the scale of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, which is being organised with public and private funding totalling €75.6 million, Cellier continued: “We will create an incredible legacy with these Games, which will last for at least the next 15 years, thanks to our close working relationship with the FEI, our 100-strong Organising Committee and over 3,000 volunteers supporting us at our five competition venues.”
Vaulting round table
The popularity of Vaulting on digital media, the revision of competition formats, introduction of new tests and protecting horse welfare were the focal points of the Vaulting round table, the final session of the FEI Sports Forum 2014.
The FEI Vaulting Technical Committee proposed the introduction of a new Junior level – CVIJ3* – designed to raise the standard for young athletes looking ahead to Senior competition. The new level would test Junior vaulters with three technical exercises to be performed in front of the surcingle.
“The proposed introduction of a CVIJ3*, which will be presented to our National Federations for further feedback, would help our Junior athletes to progress more easily to Senior level”, explained Emma Seeley (USA), Chair of the Vaulting Committee and round table panellist. “The level of our Junior athletes has progressed to such a high standard that we have very gifted athletes around the world, who are ready for this challenge.”
At Senior level, the introduction of a new CVIO4* format was proposed in which the team competition would take place at the end of the event as a grand finale, ensuring an exciting build-up for spectators. Chefs d’Equipe would declare their teams only after the performances of their individual, squad and pas-de-deux athletes, adding to the excitement of the final competition.
The welfare of Vaulting horses was also discussed in the context of increasingly sophisticated tests being performed by athletes. The Vaulting Committee opened a discussion on a more specific rule descriptor relating to the back pad used on Vaulting horses (currently described in Article 719.2.9) to ensure equipment with the latest back and muscle protection is used on Vaulting horses.
“The Vaulting Committee will be closely monitoring the evolution of back pads, surcingles and handles being used in Vaulting, and assessing whether new and improved technology could actually encourage vaulters to increase the difficulty of their exercises,” explained Bettina de Rham, FEI Director Driving, Reining & Vaulting. “It is essential that new technology used in back pads and Vaulting grips evolves positively for the horse.”
The panelists for the Vaulting Round Table also included Erich Breiter, Vice-Chair Vaulting Technical Committee (AUT); and Vaulting Committee members Gaby Benz (ITA); Ulla Ramge (GER), and John Eccles (GBR).
An online discussion platform to continue the debate on all topics discussed at the FEI Sports Forum 2014 is available here: http://sportsforum.fei.org/.
FEI Director of Endurance Ian Williams addresses the session dedicated to the discipline during the FEI Sports Forum 2014. (c) Germain Arias Schreiber/FEI.
Lausanne (SUI), 29 April 2014 – The FEI today announced bold steps that will ensure improved protection of the welfare of horses in Endurance events, proposing unprecedented athlete penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods and increased accountability. The moves were fully supported by delegates attending today’s Endurance round table on the second day of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (SUI).
“The welfare of the horse is not just a veterinary issue; it’s an issue for all those who work in the sport,” FEI 1st Vice President John McEwen and chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee said.
Proposed rule changes relating to officials’ accountability and responsibility, increased protection of horses through athlete penalty points and extended rest periods, appointment of Independent Governance Advisors (IGA) and improved conflict of interest regulations received wide support from attendees.
There was also wide support for the new FEI Endurance Codex, which the Endurance Committee has produced to cover Endurance officials, and separately Endurance athletes and registered trainers. The Codex, which defines responsibility, accountability and sanctions for those in breach of the Codex, already exists for FEI Veterinarians.
The rules changes will be circulated to National Federations for final review prior to going before the FEI Bureau at its in-person meeting on 9-10 June for approval and immediate implementation.
During the debate session that followed, there was a call for information about injuries at national events to be included in the Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS), which was backed by Dr Tim Parkin of Glasgow University, who was commissioned by the FEI to set up the study.
“The FEI has done a great job of demonstrating what can be done with data that is currently available from FEI events and it is clearly going in the right direction,” he said. “Adding in data from national events is only going to improve that situation. The new regulations have an impact that is really beneficial to the welfare of the horse.”
Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, also voiced his support for the GEIS and improved monitoring. “The need to make evidence based decisions is so important for equine welfare and I fully support the FEI’s injury surveillance programme,” he said. “Notwithstanding the limitations on data from national competitions, I would urge National Federations to provide data to the GEIS and for the FEI to use all its influence to make that happen.”
Andrew Finding, chair of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) which was tasked with producing a long-term plan for the discipline, expressed his appreciation for the support of the Group’s recommendations. “I would like to express on behalf of myself and my colleagues on the ESPG our gratitude for the support and the determined effort made by the FEI to put in place our recommendations,” he said. “You should be applauded for that work, and we are grateful for the diligence you have applied.”
Brian Sheahan, chair of the Endurance Committee, voiced the opinions of everyone attending the session. “To protect the welfare of the horse, we need to know that we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “I would like to see increased completion rates, reduced injuries and illness in the horse, and better course design. To maintain the integrity of our sport, we need a reduction in doping, improved compliance by athletes and trainers and improved rule enforcement by officials. This sport should demonstrate the highest standards of sportsmanship in a fair and equal competition. And may the best combination of horse and athlete win.”
John McEwen complimented the Endurance Committee on its work. “The Endurance Committee has worked tirelessly to produce functional regulatory structure which will take the sport forward and I am pleased that the regulatory changes and the implementation of those changes is working towards achieving the targets set by the ESPG.
“The Task Force will be extremely useful in helping implement the work done by the Endurance Committee and the Department. The processes that we have put in place will create, and do create, an enormous workload upon the departments responsible, but in my opinion the work is absolutely essential and very worthwhile.”
Panellists for the Endurance round table were John McEwen, FEI 1st Vice President and Chair of the Endurance Committee; Brian Sheahan, Chair of the Endurance Committee; Committee members Dr Khalid Ahmed Hasan (BRN), Jaume Punti Dachs (ESP) and John Robertson (GBR); and Ian Williams, FEI Director Endurance.
An online discussion platform to continue the debate on all topics discussed at the FEI Sports Forum 2014 is available here: http://sportsforum.fei.org/.
FEI Executive Board member and Technical Committee chair John Madden (USA) was the keynote speaker during the Event Classification System session at the FEI Sports Forum 2014. Photos (c) Germain Arias-Schreiber/FEI.
Lausanne (SUI), 28 April 2014 – FEI President HRH Princess Haya welcomed more than 300 delegates to the third FEI Sports Forum, which opened at the prestigious IMD business school in Lausanne (SUI) today.
Addressing delegates from 70 National Federations, representatives of the FEI Associate members, experts, guests, FEI Bureau and Technical Committee members, and FEI staff, the FEI President stressed the importance of the annual Sports Forum in her opening address.
“This is one of the most important meetings on the FEI calendar, because this is where we hear first-hand from the people who are most directly involved in running our sport,” she said. “We need your help to ensure that decisions made at the General Assembly are grounded in reality.
“This forum comes at an exciting time for our federation. The extremely successful London 2012 Olympic Games showed our sport at its best in an iconic venue before a massive global audience. We are building on that momentum with new sponsors and the excitement provided by a new generation of emerging equestrian superstars. With help from FEI Solidarity, our sport is developing in new regions.
“This is also a challenging time. We can never take our place on the Olympic Programme for granted. We are continuing to seek new commercial partners to strengthen our financial foundation. And we must never rest in the ongoing effort to deter and detect the few who seek unfair advantage. Your work here will help us meet those challenges and make the most of the opportunities before us.”
The Sports Forum’s first session focused on the Jumping Event Classification System (ECS) with FEI Executive Board member and Technical Committee chair John Madden (USA) as the keynote speaker. The panellists were Ludger Beerbaum (GER), four-time Olympic champion; Peter Bollen (BEL), equine nutritionist and President of the International Equestrian Organisers Association (IEOA); Juan-Carlos Capelli (ITA), Vice-President and Head of International Marketing of Longines; Jacky Delapierre (SUI), Founder and CEO of Athletissima, Lausanne’s annual athletics sporting event which is part of the IAAF’s Diamond League; Jon Doney (GBR), FEI Official and course designer; and Carl Spencer (USA), management and market research consultant.
John Madden briefly reviewed the background of the ECS, which was first introduced for Jumping in 2010, with the long-term goal of evaluating all Jumping events according to a standardised template of objective criteria. The concept was discussed at the inaugural Sports Forum in 2012 when delegates agreed that the prize-money-only system currently in place for grading events did not encourage event organisers to improve their facilities, as excellence was not rewarded.
After some fine-tuning of the evaluation template, a new ECS was trialled in spring 2013 at Western European League events of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping series. The system took into account all the factors that contribute to a top event, including the level of the competition and venue facilities.
Madden identified the three essential goals of the newly developed system:
The collection of useable feedback for organisers and FEI Headquarters based dupon clear, concise standards;
a streamlined cost- and time-effective evaluation system which engages all enthusiasts;
gathering information through systems already in place for ease of implementation.
He then presented the proposed ECS strategy, including the collection of the existing officials’ reports, draft schedules, and host agreements which will be incorporated into a manageable FEI reporting data base. A scorecard for the event would then be produced and sent to the event organisers for feedback.
The appointment of account executives for FEI series to be involved in the data collection process, and the implementation of an early warning system, open to all data collectors, through which the relevant FEI HQ departments could be speedily alerted if serious problems were encountered at an event, were also presented, and the actions to be implemented before, during, and after the event were outlined.
Carl Spencer of market research provider KS&R, presented the current status of the ECS, based on information extracted from existing documents. He stressed that data collection would not be transformed into an independent activity but would be conducted through existing channels, and highlighted the importance of automation and the use of online facilities.
Next steps in the ECS development were identified as the review of the implementation protocol and timetable, the automation of the officials’ reports, and the finalisation of the scoring system.
During the following open debate, Jacky Delapierre highlighted the importance of television production, particularly for top events. Ludger Beerbaum, commenting on behalf of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), encouraged the FEI to implement the ECS and emphasised the importance of strategic forward thinking. “We need to think where our sport wants to be in 20 or 30 years,” he said. “We should consider a long-term vision and never let our connection with the Olympic Games out of sight.”
Delegates from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Poland, and Saudi Arabia discussed the pivotal role of the NFs and their involvement in the evaluation system, the need to avoid duplication of tasks, the weighting of the scores attributed to the facilities for the horses, the involvement of grooms, the use for developing nations, the need for simplicity and feedback.
“A lot of work still remains to be done, especially where IT developments are concerned, but let’s not have paralysis over perfection,” John Madden said at the conclusion of the session. “Our objective is to launch the system later this year to evaluate events wishing to be part of the Longines FEI World Cup and the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. I am grateful for the very valuable comments we got from the Forum today and given the positive feedback and everyone’s willingness to take part, I am looking forward to a great step forward for our sport.”
The second morning session focused on the Equine Surfaces White Paper, an extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopaedic health of sport horses, published earlier this month by the FEI.
The white paper is the result of a four-year collaboration between eight equine experts from six universities, three equine and racing-specific research and testing centres and two horse charities in Sweden, the UK and United States.
Highlights of the white paper were presented by Lars Roepstorff (SWE), professor of functional anatomy of domestic animals at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. A layman’s version of the white paper, Equestrian Surfaces – A Guide, was presented to delegates, and is available to download here.
Brand new rider-focused research was detailed by Professor Roepstorff, based on views from more than 350 riders in warm-up and competition arenas at 10 4- and 5-star events in 2013, resulting in over 600 “footing feedbacks”.
Ludger Beerbaum, who also featured on the Footing panel, took part in the research. “Footing is our primary daily concern,” he said. “It’s vital that we have the best possible ground for our horses when we’re training at home and when we travel for competitions. When the footing is good, our horses are healthy. Getting the footing right is already complex, and we’re also training and competing in different climates outdoors and indoors throughout the year.
“Ongoing research into footing is key to prolonging the careers of our horses. I and the other riders who have taken part in this research all feel that major advances have been made in understanding footing, and we’ll continue to be part of further studies.”
“Now, thanks to extensive scientific knowledge and data collected on footing by our global experts, and this latest valuable rider research, the FEI is able to provide clear guidance on the specifications and maintenance of footing for working areas and competition arenas to the entire equestrian community,” said John McEwen (GBR), FEI 1st Vice-President and Chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee.
“This will have an extensive impact on horse health and performance, and represents a major step forward for riders and stable owners. Organisers will also benefit from having very specific details on the best formula for footing at major events.”
Frank Kemperman (NED), Chair of the FEI Dressage Committee and organiser of the CHIO Aachen (GER), was joined on the panel by Oliver Hoberg (GER), who has been responsible for footing at numerous major equestrian events around the world since the 1990s, including the FEI World Cup™ Final 2003 in Las Vegas, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the London 2012 Olympic Games. He is now in charge of the footing for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, which take place this August.
The importance of footing maintenance was underlined in the following open discussion. “The footing is only as good as the maintenance, and good maintenance requires dedication,” underlined Hoberg. “It is all about carefully studying a horse’s response to footing in varying situations and having a focused and consistent maintenance approach.”
An online discussion platform to continue the debate on all topics discussed at the FEI Sports Forum 2014 is available here: http://sportsforum.fei.org/.
The Equine Surfaces White Paper has been funded by the FEI, World Horse Welfare, the Swedish Foundation for Equine Research and the British Equestrian Federation, working with lead author Dr Sarah Jane Hobbs – research lead in equine biomechanics at the University of Central Lancashire (GBR) and member of Research and Consultancy in Equine Surfaces (RACES) – and seven equine scientists and researchers in the UK, USA and Sweden.
The panellists for the FEI Footing Forum were Ludger Beerbaum (GER), four-time Olympic champion; Oliver Hoberg (GER), footing consultant; and Frank Kemperman (NED), FEI Dressage Committee chair.
FEI launches new SportApp
The FEI launched its free FEI SportApp on the first day of the FEI Sports Forum.
The app allows users access to the FEI’s entire sports calendar, including detailed programmes and schedules.
FEI athletes can also use the app to see clearly which events they are entered for with their horses, get live information on their upcoming entries and sign up to push notifications for every accepted entry.
“We have thousands of events in our 2014 calendar, and we will have more next year as our sport continues to grow globally,” said Gaspard Dufour, FEI IT Manager at today’s launch to more than 300 delegates at the FEI Sports Forum.
“The FEI SportApp is a must-have for those who want to follow key events, and is essential for athletes planning their campaigns and organising their lives around their busy competition schedules,” explained Dufour.
Sustainability and IT initiatives feature at FEI Sports Forum
The FEI Sustainability Programme and the proactive sustainable steps that can be taken at equestrian events around the world were detailed by Dr Harald Müller (GER), FEI Director Education and Standards, to open the afternoon session of the FEI Sports Forum 2014.
The new FEI Sustainability Handbook for Event Organisers, circulated during the session and also available online, encourages organisers to implement sustainability initiatives based on their own set priorities to help reduce negative environmental impact and create positive legacies.
“Sustainable sporting events are a major priority for organisers and the network of organisations who help make these happen – governments, sponsors and the communities in which the events takes place to name just a few,” Dr Müller said.
“Equestrian events are unique in many ways, and are also very different to each other based on geography, existing infrastructure and financing, but they do have one thing in common: sustainable action can be taken at every event. The FEI Sustainability Handbook is designed to highlight how, and also what proactive measures can be taken in the future.”
The FEI will introduce several sustainability initiatives, including an interactive web platform, which will include a knowledge database and diverse sustainability benchmarking tools to enable event organisers to work together with the FEI and with each other on development.
“Respect for nature has always been integral to equestrian sport through its connection to horses and the outdoors,” FEI President HRH Princess Haya said today. “The Sustainability Handbook for Event Organisers gives us a solid framework to improve and expand our efforts to protect the environment and ensure that equestrian events create a lasting positive legacy.”
Jeremy Edwards (AUS), Venue General Manager of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games and Equestrian Site Manager for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and now General Manager of the Baku 2015 European Games Operation Committee, underlined the importance of having an established sustainability policy for equestrian events.
“The sooner we have clear sustainability guidance for organisers to follow the better,” he said. “In reality, we have a very short period of time to consider sustainability at events, and to include it at every stage of the build-up. We need considered sustainability targets for equestrian events, timeframes and strong monitoring throughout the event preparation, and also full feedback post-event for clear learning and implementation next time. That would be an ideal sustainable approach in my view.”
The four-strong panel on the FEI Sustainability Programme session also included Steve Aeschlimann (SUI/ITA), Executive Director of Operations, Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM); Denis Bochatay (SUI), Project Manager at environmental life cycle assessment consultancy Quantis; and Simon Lewis (GBR), Founder of Team Planet, a specialist consultancy providing sport sustainability advice.
Online Entry System
The FEI Online Entry System, the single platform that enables Organising Committees and National Federations to process the entries of athletes and horses to manage results more efficiently, was reviewed in the second afternoon session.
Gaspard Dufour, FEI IT Manager, highlighted the key system developments and outlined areas for further improvement with the National Federations.
FEI Sports Forum delegates were invited to give feedback on how the system has facilitated their work and discuss ways in which it could be further improved.
Justin Provost (USA), Director of Information Technology at the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and panelist for the session, highlighted the benefits of the FEI Online Entry System and underlined its importance against the backdrop of increasingly busy competition schedules. “The system gives us important athlete information at our finger tips, and is very easy to use, which is vital for our busy athlete services team who, on a yearly basis, are dealing with the needs of thousands of athletes,” he said.
The panelists on the FEI Online Entry System session included Stephan Ellenbruch (GER), FEI Official, FEI Jumping Committee member and President of the International Show Jumping Officials Club; Peter Bollen (BEL), President of the International Equestrian Organisers Association and equine nutritionist; Andreas Steidle (GER), Founder of Equinis and creator of the Hippobase online entry system, and Aurélien Jost (SUI) and Pascal Rossier (SUI) of Swiss Timing.
An online discussion platform to continue the debate on all topics discussed at the FEI Sports Forum 2014 is available here: http://sportsforum.fei.org/
The FEI Sustainability Handbook for Event Organisers is available online here. The FEI encourages sustainable viewing of the handbook, however the FEI does have a limited supply of the handbook in hard copy. Please contact Somesh Dutt firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maury Peiperl (USA), Professor of Leadership and Strategic Change at IMD business school, makes a presentation to the FEI Sports Forum. (FEI/Edouard Curchod)
Lausanne (SUI), 8 April 2013 – Dual career: preparing athletes for the workplace after their competitive career was the second topic on the agenda of the FEI Sports Forum 2013. Experts from the sports, business and academic worlds, as well as elite international athletes, spoke about their experiences and gave interesting examples of best practice in this area.
“Is there life after sport?” FEI President HRH Princess Haya asked in her opening address.
“The increasing professionalisation of sport requires athletes to dedicate most of their time to training and competition. Often at an age where others are starting their professional education, athletes face the problem of combining intense training and competition with professional education,” she commented. “Society, as well as any responsible sports organisation, should enable its athletes to safeguard their future during their sports careers by providing them with opportunities to qualify for the job market.”
Although equestrian sport is more privileged than some other sports, as there is a whole industry offering employment, there are persistent challenges.
Princess Haya described some of the actions the FEI can undertake to help its athletes make the transition from the competitive world to a successful professional career.
“We can cooperate closely with the IOC within its IOC Athlete Career Programme, which includes Olympic Movement, National Olympic Committees, International Federations and National Federations,” she explained.
“We can generate awareness among our own athletes of the need for a professional education. We can stimulate cooperation between the sport and the horse sector. We can provide our athletes with extensive information on professional education opportunities worldwide. We can – in cooperation with national entities – provide guidance and information for athletes on employment opportunities. We can provide advice to National Federations on creating a national network of sport organisations, education institutions, employment representatives, health and financial authorities. And finally, we can offer our athletes flexible tools, such as online education, for accessing educational training.
“We, as the FEI, really hope that, one day, former equestrian athletes will serve us or the wider sport. It is therefore in our interest to create a ‘home-grown’ future generation of world-class FEI leaders and administrators who know our sport,” Princess Haya concluded.
Dr Harald Müller, FEI Executive Director Education and Standards, presented a new FEI online education project which will be providing the equestrian community with exciting online training opportunities. This new platform – FEI Campus – will make the FEI the first Olympic sports organisation introducing professional online education for its stakeholders. This flexible tool will also provide support to the FEI Solidarity programmes.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member and chair of the IOC Athletes Commission Claudia Bokel (GER) presented the IOC Athlete Career Programme (ACP), launched in 2005 and renewed in 2012 through to 2020. The programme is offered by the IOC and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in co-operation with Adecco, the world’s largest provider of solutions in human resources.
The IOC Athlete Career Programme assists Olympic athletes in making the transition from the field of play to the labour market, as well as companies looking to hire employees that will make a difference in their workforce. The ACP offers an integrated approach of combining sport and education, life skills and employment opportunities.
Since the creation of the programme, 32 National Olympic Committees on five continents have joined with the IOC and Adecco. By the end of 2012, outreach programmes had supported more than 10,000 athletes from over 100 countries with training opportunities and job placements.
Maury Peiperl (USA), Professor of Leadership and Strategic Change at IMD business school, made a lively presentation on the subject of managing career transitions. He identified different career paths and outlined their specific characteristics. He highlighted the fact that linear career development is no longer the norm and that radical professional changes are more frequent. The business world is gradually becoming receptive to individuals such as athletes who come from non-traditional backgrounds and have been able to make bold career decisions.
Thomas Batliner (LIE), former Olympic Jumping rider and investment consultant, and Sergei Aschwanden (SUI), judo bronze medallist in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, spoke of their experiences as elite athletes who have successfully transitioned into the business and academic worlds. The key roles of preparing the transition and the athletes’ entourage were emphasised.
The panellists agreed that one of the biggest challenges facing athletes today was the lack of information about the tools facilitating career change. They stressed the importance of sports organisations getting closer to their athletes – in-person at events and seminars or through social media – to understand their needs and create interest and motivation.
Delegates raised questions on different challenges such as the lack of motivation, the prospect of having a lengthy career as an equestrian athlete, or the possibility of failing at both sport and studies if neither were a priority.
Claudia Bokel summarised the answers in one. “It is important to secure a basis for a new career even if it takes many years,” she said. “And of course you have to be realistic about what you want to achieve. But don’t contemplate failure, don’t take away the dreams!”
An in-depth article on dual career for athletes was published in the March 2013 edition of FEI Focus which is available as an online flipbook here (see “FEI Insights” on page 44).
Additional information on the IOC Adecco Athletes Career Programme is available on the dedicated website here.
The biographies of speakers can be found here and here.
Susanne Münstermann, Chargée de Mission at the OIE, addressed delegates on improving the international movement of top-level sport horses at the FEI Sports Forum. Photo: Edouard Curchod/FEI.
Lausanne (SUI), 8 April 2013 – The FEI, World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the European Commission addressed delegates on improving the international movement of top-level sport horses at the afternoon session of today’s FEI Sports Forum.
The session was opened by John McEwen, FEI Vice President and Chair of the Veterinary Committee, who introduced a specially commissioned video focusing on the rapid growth of equestrian sport and the progress being made in improving the regulatory approach to the international movement of horses.
Graeme Cooke, FEI Veterinary Director, highlighted the significant socio-economic effects of the sport’s growth, and the major changes in the approach of many government authorities that need to occur in order to sustain these effects. “The number of FEI events around the world has risen by almost 30 per cent during the last five years, and in 2013 we expect to see the busiest event calendar in the history of equestrian sport,” he said.
“Our sport is opening up to new athletes and mass audiences like never before, and with this expansion comes jobs and revenues across continents. In order to maintain this, competition horses need to be moved across many borders more easily, and we are working closely with the OIE and governments to establish a commonly-recognised biosecurity approach to these ‘high-health’, ‘high-performance’ horses.
“We have also taken the opportunity today at the FEI Sports Forum to outline a roadmap for our National Federations, to enable them to take concrete steps to help bring about that change.”
Susanne Münstermann, Chargée de Mission at the OIE, explained the need to introduce a special official category for equine athletes. “Many competition horses are now ‘frequent-flyers’, just like their human counterparts,” she explained.
“From a regulatory point of view, these competition horses enter countries as temporary imports to compete. The OIE and FEI are seeking to establish a global protocol for the movement of these horses, categorising them separately from other horses and other animals, to make this temporary importation procedure much easier.
“We are also proposing a unique system of identification for these horses that governments can trust – a system that clearly shows they are dealing with a lower risk competition horse.”
Dr Alf-Eckbert Füssel, Deputy Head of Unit of the European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate-General, spoke about the regulations for the movement of horses within the European Union, where FEI competition horses are already effectively categorised.
“Over the last 10 years, the FEI and OIE have been working together to pinpoint how best to move sport horses, against the backdrop of international Veterinary Services requirements and biosecurity measures that must be applied,” concluded Graeme Cooke.
“In February, we embarked on a three-year plan, which sees the FEI commit resources in the spirit of a public-private partnership with the OIE, to bring about fundamental changes as quickly as possible.”
The FEI Sports Forum is taking place 8-9 April at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The discussions will continue online following the FEI Sports Forum here.
FEI Sports Forum – Veterinary session panellists
John McEwen, FEI Vice President and Chair of the Veterinary Committee
Graeme Cooke, FEI Veterinary Director
Susanne Münstermann, Chargée de Mission at the OIE
Dr Alf-Eckbert Füssel, Deputy Head of Unit of the European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate-General
Dr Sergio Salinas (MEX), Member, FEI Veterinary Committee
Moderator: Richard Nicoll
With the mandate to improve animal health and welfare worldwide, the OIE is recognised as the reference standard-setting organisation for the international movement of animals, including horses, by the World Trade Organisation.
In September 2012, FEI President HRH Princess Haya was appointed to serve as the OIE’s first Goodwill Ambassador to help raise worldwide awareness of its missions and activities.
FEI & OIE – Movements of International Competition Horses
In 2002, the FEI signed an Official Agreement with the OIE, joining the likes of the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation, World Veterinary Association and the International Federation for Animal Health, which have similar OIE agreements.
The FEI and the OIE have since co-hosted joint summits on the international movement of sport horses, which have been attended by over 70 international government representatives and veterinary and horse sport experts from 25 countries.
FEI President HRH Princess Haya addresses delegates at the second FEI Sports Forum at the International Management Development Institute in Lausanne. (FEI/Edouard Curchod)
Lausanne (SUI), 8 April 2013 – FEI President HRH Princess Haya welcomed close to 300 delegates to the second FEI Sports Forum, which opened at the International Management Development Institute in Lausanne (SUI) today.
Addressing the delegates, the FEI President commented on the broad cross-section of representatives from the equestrian community attending the Forum, which included 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.
Following the opening address by the FEI President, 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 the quota shift and qualification system for 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 Federation is now in the final phase of appointing a Games coordinator, who will work on future Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as FEI 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. 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,” he said.
The importance of reaching agreement on the proposed changes to the quota system and the qualification structure for the Rio 2016 Games was emphasised by the FEI Secretary General. The final decision on both these issues rests with the IOC.
“We have a very clear message from the IOC that no increase on the overall quota for equestrian sport of 200 athletes will be accepted,” De Vos said. “These are the parameters and we need to find the best balance between universality and performance and to give equal chances to all regions. There is no perfect solution, but it is important to have consensus within our community. The credibility of that community and of our sport depends on our ability to put aside national interests and stand together behind a unified proposal for the IOC.”
To ensure that the same number of nations can qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, it is proposed that all three Olympic disciplines should be aligned, so that teams in each discipline would include a maximum of four riders with the three best scores to count. This would mean a reduction from five riders to four in Eventing; and an increase from three riders to four in Dressage, and allow for the introduction of one reserve horse per team for Eventing to bring it into line with the other two disciplines.
Under the proposed quota shift, Jumping remains at 75 starters, while Eventing drops to 65 (from 75 in 2012) to allow Dressage numbers to increase to 60 (from 50). It was highlighted that the simulation of the new quota distribution for Eventing, based on the 2012 Olympic Games figures, would not have altered the number of qualified nations. The British National Federation expressed its concern about the reduction of team members for Eventing, but understood why the proposal had been made.
Consensus on the quota shift was reached and will now be brought to the IOC. There is more time to finalise the proposal for specific qualification systems before it is submitted to the FEI General Assembly in November, and stakeholders were urged to continue the debate on the dedicated Online Platform.
There were a number of requests from delegates for the quota to be increased, and Christophe Dubi said that every International Federation is seeking an increase. “Let’s be very clear here, the quotas were set in 1996 and have remained roughly the same, and will remain the same,” he said. “The essence of every IF is to grow their sport, but if you added 20 more riders, or there were more athletes in other sports, what’s the added value for the Olympic Games? It’s the same for every sport and the answer from a purely objective standpoint is that it wouldn’t make a difference. It comes down to the balance between universality and performance. The Games represent the pinnacle and the 200 you have represent your sport best on a worldwide basis.”
The FEI Secretary General then opened discussion on qualification criteria for the 2016 Paralympics, the final topic of the opening session, starting with an evaluation of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, including highlighting record ticket sales and the huge media interest generated by the Para-Dressage events at Greenwich Park. The rapid development of the sport has meant that some changes to the format are necessary, and FEI Dressage and Para-Dressage Director Trond Asmyr spoke on the proposals, which include the reduction of maximum participants from one country from five to four and the necessity to include at least one rider from Grade III or IV in the team.
Both the FEI Secretary General and session moderator Richard Nicoll again highlighted the FEI Sports Forum Online Platform and invited delegates and other stakeholders to continue the discussion online on www.fei.org.
Panellists for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Qualification System Forum were IOC Sports Director & Deputy Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi, FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, the Chairs of the FEI Technical Committees – John Madden (USA), Jumping; Giuseppe Della Chiesa (ITA), Eventing; Frank Kemperman (NED), Dressage; and Ulf Wilken (SWE), Para-Dressage; the FEI Olympic and Paralympic discipline Directors – John Roche (Jumping), Trond Asmyr (Dressage and Para-Dressage) and Catrin Norinder (Eventing and Olympic), and FEI Senior Legal Counsel Mikael Rentsch.