Three-day eventing will remain a part of the summer Olympic Games--at least for the foreseeable future. Last year, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board voted to keep the sport in the Olympic program through the 2008 Beijing Games under a new, shorter format proposed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) late last year.
Beginning with the 2004 Games in Athens, the Olympic eventing format will change from a CCI (three-day event) to a CIC (international horse trial), with a shortened cross country phase. The new format will consist of a dressage test, a cross-country obstacle course--without the roads and tracks or the steeplechase phases--and finally, a show jumping phase. Riders who finish in the top 25 will go on to a second show jumping competition, which will decide individual medal winners.
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The FEI suggested these changes last year after an Olympic commission established to evaluate both summer and winter sports recommended eliminating eventing along with several other sports. An Olympic Programme Commission report released in 2002 recommended that eventing be excluded due to "the costs of venue preparations and operations ... in particular as a result of the amount of land required." The danger to horses and riders was also noted. The FEI addressed these concerns and persuaded the IOC to retain the sport. The IOC executive board's decision guarantees that eventing will be part of the Olympics through the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Regarding future Olympics, the IOC plans to establish new criteria this year to further evaluate all sports in the Olympic program.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of EQUUS magazine.