The International Jumping Riders Club — which represents virtually every FEI rider at the top of the sport from Europe, the Americas and beyond — has submitted an alternative proposal for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo to the sport’s governing body. They IJRC claims they have the unanimous approval of their athletes and owners for this format.
The FEI’s current proposal to eliminate the drop score and limit each nation to three riders with three counting scores was developed with the intention of being able to include more nations in the event and therefore expand interest and universality in the sport. The same number of riders would be competing – 75 horse and rider combinations – but with 33 nations represented rather than the current 28.
The proposal has receive extraordinary backlash for eliminating the suspense of the sport and jeopardizing horse welfare with little benefit.
The IJRC instead proposes that the number of teams be decreased (from 15 currently to 14 in 2020) and the number of individuals who can qualify be increased (from 15 to 19).
“Deserving athletes could then be rewarded, even when not backed by a strong federation or a nation with a strong tradition of show jumping,” the IJRC states in their proposal. “This solution means sacrificing one to three teams but small nations would find an open door. At this stage in international development it is far more likely to have competitive individuals from the next tier of nations rather than competitive teams.”
The FEI’s proposed model was once implemented in the past; at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, the team format ran with three riders per team and it was considered a bit of a disaster. The Canadian Team won with three riders who together incurred more than 100 penalties. The IJRC argues that this system doesn’t effectively portray the best team, and in that example, it’s hard to find fault in their argument.
The FEI has not yet made a response to the IJRC proposal, but we will be sure to update our readers if one becomes available. You can read the International Jumping Riders Club’s full proposal here. [Olympic Jumping Format Proposal]