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FEI President Ingmar De Vos guests Le Tertulia Ecuestre: "We do not take decisions from an ivory tower in Switzerland”

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Photo © FEI FEI President Ingmar De Vos. Photo © FEI.


Text © World of Showjumping



Earlier this month, FEI President Ingmar De Vos guested Le Tertulia Ecuestre – an equestrian channel on YouTube with episodes hosted by César Hirsch, Santiago Varela, Leopoldo Palacios as well as Carolo López Quesada. De Vos spoke about several important subjects, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and equestrian sports, the CSI invitation system, minimum requirements and the world ranking. To watch the full program, click here – or have a look at the video below. 

Le Tertulia Ecuestre – with FEI President Ingmar De Vos

The Covid-19 pandemic and equestrian sports

"We all have a big responsibility here to try to do our utmost to do the right thing,” De Vos said in the interview, pointing out how the constant changes and uncertainty affect athletes and organisers. 

"We are trying to address the Covid-19 pandemic in the best way possible,” De Vos said. “We try to be proactive because as Dr. Hart [Chair of the FEI Medical Committee] said, it is not over yet. We don't know what is going to happen in the future, we don't know what is going to happen next year, so we are sure to have an impact of this pandemic for the next year to come. We need to be very careful."

De Vos also spoke about the FEI’s Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the Covid-19 Pandemic, in force from 1st of July. The FEI President referred to the policy as a toolbox for the organisers that also obliges them to make a risk assessment of their events – taking into account several parameters established by the World Health Organisation. "We also have responsibilities towards our athletes, towards our officials; that if we allow an event to take place in this pandemic time, that we are more or less guaranteeing that the organising committee is taking the right measures," De Vos said – highlighting that the FEI’s goal with the policy was to help organisers to do the right thing.

The CSI invitation rules

Another topic De Vos addressed, was the CSI invitation rules. “Basically, it is to have fair sport,” the FEI President said about the purpose of the rules. “It's to try to find a balance in the participation, of athletes that deserve to participate at such an event because of their performances in the past. The IJRC always calls it meritocracy. It's to give a place to the athletes that deserve to participate at high-level events because they have proven in the past to be high-level. And how do they prove that? Well, by the position they have on the Longines Ranking.”

De Vos pointed out how the rules also balance the interest of the national federations to invite home riders as well as giving the organising committees flexibility for invitations. "It is a difficult study to find the perfect balance in this, but it is important," De Vos said – further pointing out how the new online invitation system allows the FEI to control that the rules are correctly implemented. 

The FEI President also highlighted how the rules are a result of a democratic process, and how they have been discussed on several occasions such as at the FEI Sports Forum and at a FEI round table session. “In the end, we came to a compromise which then was a revised invitation system whereas it was an agreement that how higher the star-level of an event the higher the number of athletes from the ranking should be for participating – and the lower the [star-level of the] event, how lower the number of athletes coming from the ranking and more liberty for the organiser and for the national federation," De Vos explained.

The percentages in the invitation table is "a result of a discussion”, Devos said. “This is basically a consensus. Is it the best solution for everybody? No,” he answered rhetorically – before pointing out that athletes, national federations and organisers all would like to have a bigger percentage of the invitations. "It is a compromise that was made by all the parties, and it works,” De Vos stated. 

De Vos also explained why the invitation rules currently are suspended for CSI2* events. "Due to the Covid-19 situation, we have decided to suspend the invitation system for all two-star events,” the FEI President said. “For the very simple reason that we allow them to come into the calendar at the latest four weeks before the event takes place, and it is just impossible from a technical perspective to run an online invitation system for a show that takes place in four weeks."

Furthermore, De Vos said he recently asked the Jumping Committee to look at what can be done for the CSI2* shows in the future. “This will always be an issue as a two-star can be introduced in the calendar at a very late stage," De Vos said. 

Establishing minimum requirements 

De Vos also addressed the possibility of establishing minimum requirements for international events. "We need to make sure that shows, whatever level they are, meet the minimum requirements," he said. "We want to establish real minimum requirements, that we don't want any deviation from. We want stable security, clean stables, footing that is approved and according to the standards, we want supervision.”

The world ranking

De Vos clarified that the FEI cannot make any changes to the world ranking without the agreement of the athletes and IJRC. He then detailed how the ranking formula has been a subject on several occasions. “We have discussed this many times: Should there not be some parameters – weight coefficients – introduced, defining the difficulty of the competitors? If you have Top 20 ranking-participation it is different than if you have lower ranked riders participating, but then again it depends very much on with what horse so then basically it needs to be a ranking on the horse-rider combination.” 

“There have been quite some simulations that we have done for this, but to be honest with these simulations there was not much change in the rankings,” De Vos said – adding that the FEI wants to be careful to introduce such principles, and only when it is known that it works in the correct way. 

For the FEI, De Vos said that the focus is to preserve the integrity of the ranking. In this regard, De Vos questioned if points earned for the world ranking should not be more similar to the formula for the Olympic ranking where competitors only get a 100% of the points if there is a reasonable number of participants in the class. "This is also something we need to look at for the normal ranking,” De Vos said. “Maybe to start to look at how many participants we have, and if you have only very few, you get less points." 

The Longines Ranking working group, which De Vos is a part of, is now waiting to see how the invitation system affects the ranking before any fine-tuning is made. However, the FEI President pointed out: "All suggestions are more than welcome!"

The FEI Sports Forum

The FEI President also spoke about the importance of the FEI Sports Forum, which he believes is "a unique platform to check new ideas, to check new proposed rules with a broader community and not only with national federations but also with the stakeholders.” 

“It is a useful tool for the decision making in the FEI," De Vos said – adding how the Sports Forum creates dialogue prior to finalising a first draft of the rules, so that the FEI can take on board all different comments and ideas, as well as contributing towards a democratic process. 

Good governance

Another topic De Vos covered was the FEI’s good governance, recognised in a review made by the Association for Summer Olympic International Federations. "We do not take decisions from an ivory tower in Switzerland,” De Vos said – referring to how the FEI consults national federations and other stakeholders through many different channels on several occasions. "It [good governance ] is important for the credibility of our organisation, for the credibility of the sport towards a lot of partners," he stated – adding how good governance also gives assurance to the International Olympic Committee, which is paramount for the future of equestrian sports.

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