THE three to a team format for the Olympic Games will remain in place for Paris 2024. The format was approved at the FEI General Assembly in Antwerp, Belgium, this week.

Voting on the format took place on Wednesday when some 70 National Federations voted for a team of three, while 30 voted against. The breakdown of federations who voted for and against was not made available, however, the Irish Federation (Horse Sport Ireland) have confirmed they voted against the format and in favour of four persons to a team.

The overwhelming vote in favour of the three-person format came despite former Olympic show jumping champion Steve Guerdat and former Olympic dressage champion Isabell Werth both speaking passionately about returning to a team of four. Each National Federation has just one vote, despite some countries never having a team at Olympic level.

In a 17-minute speech, Guerdat, who was speaking on behalf of the International Jumping Riders’ Club (IJRC) and “in the name of the majority of the riders”, pleaded with the National Federations to follow the wish of their riders and go back to four riders with a drop score “for the good of our horses”.

“We had fantastic sport in Tokyo because we had a great course designer, great athletes; we had the right winners, I accept that. But it was only thanks to those people and not thanks to the format,” commented Guerdat.

He said the individual competition was “very frustrating because it was actually over before it started. In a championships, normally you grow into it, you get better day by day and come into top form on the last day. You expect athletes to be ready for the last day when the competition is at its best.”


Guerdat added the team qualifier was a “complete disaster. As athletes, we felt like we were in a circus. Everything we pointed out at the FEI Sports Forum a few years before happened, even worse than we expected.

“There were too many bad pictures of riders that were not up to the level to compete at an Olympic Games. And, I strongly believe that a rider should never be put in a position that they have to finish their round. The format forced you to finish,” the former world number one, Olympic and European champion said.

Guerdat said the team final in Tokyo was not exciting because for a lot of teams, it was over after one or two riders had gone, using his own team final round as an example. “From a point of view of pure sport, it’s much better for the sport to have four riders and the drop score.”

He fobbed off the idea that the drop score is hard to understand. “I do not believe we should change the rule of our sport for those people.”

Closing out his argument, Guerdat said he was ready to give up fighting for change but his colleagues and friends in the sport encouraged him to speak up at the General Assembly.

“I have a young daughter. I want to be able to look her in the eyes and at least say I tried everything until the last battle to save the sport that I love above everything.”

Stephan Ellenbruch was re-elected to the chair of the Jumping Committee until 2025. Addressing the athletes, he said: “I know that some of you have different views on decisions taken by this General Assembly, especially when it comes to decision we have taken in relation to the Olympic Games.

“Yet I need you in the team, as a team member. The course is set, let’s accept the framework we have now and make it the best possible format for the Games. I am counting on your advice and your expertise. Let’s jump this course as a team and together.”

The vote on the teams of three for the Paralympic Games passed with 79 in favour and 19 against.

Qualifying system

The Paris 2024 qualification systems for jumping, dressage and eventing were passed, 81 in favour to 15 against. National Federations made recommendations on the qualifying system to the FEI prior to the General Assembly.

An executive summary from the Jumping Committee said they reviewed the recommendations and: “Following receipt of the letter sent from the IOC to the FEI president on November 3rd 2021, the Jumping Committee has agreed to follow the recommendations set forth by the IOC and recommends to maintain the qualification system as proposed and is open to discuss with different stakeholders the best possible formats that can be found within the three athletes per team formula.”

The IOC Executive Board is scheduled to approve the qualification procedure (for all sports) in February 2022.