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Steve Guerdat on the Olympic format: “I hope that together, we can achieve what we think is impossible"

Tuesday, 16 November 2021
FEI Hybrid General Assembly 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Steve Guerdat. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

"I like to believe that I should not be here, because you should represent us riders as national federations," Steve Guerdat began when he, in the name of the International Jumping Riders Club, spoke at one of Monday’s meetings at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly in Antwerp. "We all owe the past generations that made our sport as great as it is today, to try and save our sport. I personally want to be able to look at my young daughter, look her in the eye in a few years, and at least say that I tried everything to the last battle – to save the sport that I love above everything,” Guerdat said as he encouraged all those present to put self-interest and egos aside and not vote in favour of the suggested qualification system for the 2024 Olympic Games. "I hope that together, we can achieve what we think is impossible; to go back to the old format of four riders and a drop score, for the good of our horses," Guerdat said. 

Watch Guerdat’s speech at the EEF meeting at the FEI Hybrid General Assembly

For years, the FEI and the riders have only been able to agree that they disagree over the Olympic format. Despite strong opposition from the riders, the new Olympic format of three riders and no drop-score was approved and introduced for the Tokyo Olympics. This week, the FEI’s proposal for the qualification system for the 2024 Olympic Games is to be reviewed “as a priority for approval” by the FEI Hybrid General Assembly – only three months after the Olympic Games in Tokyo. A consultation process took place prior to the General Assembly, but out of the 136 FEI affiliated national federations, only eight commented on the format

Despite the new format causing concerns among riders and other stakeholders, especially when it comes to horse welfare, the FEI Jumping Committee last week released a report where they announced their support to the Olympic formula with three horse-and-rider combinations per team.

As the FEI Hybrid General Assembly continues in Antwerp today, there is a session dedicated to FEI rules and regulations including the Paris 2024 qualification systems. Tomorrow, on the 17 November, votes will be cast at the General Assembly.

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