Karen Robinson’s Straight Up blog, The Punitive Games, contained a number of factual errors, which we would like to correct and also add some more details in order to provide readers with a bigger picture of the proposed qualification system for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
First and foremost the FEI would like to correct the following two inaccuracies in the article:
1. Regarding the reallocation of unused Host Country Places, Karen Robinson states: “The removal of the Pan Am reallocation is perhaps the most telling piece of evidence that the FEI DC definitely didn’t ignore the pleas from the Americas. They deliberately took action to further disadvantage the region.”
This is incorrect. The Olympic qualification proposal published as an annex to the 2013 FEI General Assembly documents still contains the same text related to reallocation of unused Host Country Places as in the document presented at the 2013 FEI Sports Forum. The relevant paragraph reads: “In case the host nation is unable to field a team, the team slot will be reallocated to the highest ranked team on the Team Ranking of the 2015 Pan-American Games not already qualified. If the host nation then decides to send 1 or 2 individuals instead of a team, the total number of athletes that can qualify by means of the FEI Olympic Ranking List Dressage will be reduced by the number of individual athletes of the host nation (1 or 2).”
2. Karen Robinson states: “The Americas have only one guaranteed [team] spot for Rio, while the nethers [Olympic Groups F & G and the 4 defined countries of Group C] have two.”
This is incorrect. The Americas have two guaranteed team spots for Rio, one for the host nation and one for the best team qualifying at the 2015 Pan-American Games. In the event that the host nation does not send a team, this slot would be reallocated via the Pan-Am Games as explained in point 1 above.
Neither the FEI Dressage Committee nor FEI Headquarters have ignored the feedback received from the Americas on the proposed qualification system. Based on the detailed proposal submitted by the Pan American Equestrian Confederation (PAEC), which was also supported by the Canadian National Federation, conference calls were held between the FEI Secretary General and the PAEC representatives in order to come to a constructive compromise.
Although not all of PAEC’s requests could be accepted, certain elements were regarded as very valuable and thus incorporated in the final version of the qualification system proposal. Among these additions is PAEC’s suggestion to allocate individual slots through results at championships (in addition to the individual slots allocated through the Olympic Ranking List), aiming to increase universality.
Another major change that was included in the proposal as a result of these consultations is the guarantee of two individual slots for Group D and E (the Americas), based on the results of the Pan Am Games 2015. This is an important change, which guarantees more slots for the Americas, not less. In order to make these additional individual slots available, the change from three to four teams qualifying from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2014 was withdrawn.
In addition to the above, the current proposal contains the important addition that regional qualification slots will remain with the Olympic Groups even in a potential reallocation process. This is a major change to the 2012 Olympic Qualification System as it will ensure reallocation within the Olympic Groups rather than a reallocation solely based on the overall Olympic Ranking List.
In addition to the above corrections we would like to emphasize that it is difficult for all parties involved to find the perfect balance between universality and top sport in the Olympic qualification system, but both the FEI Dressage Committee and FEI Headquarters believe that the current proposal submitted for the FEI General Assembly’s approval is an appropriate compromise. A simulation based on the 2012 Olympic Ranking List has shown that the current proposal would qualify more flags and consequently increase universality for Dressage in the Games while still allowing the possibility for top individuals to form composite teams.
As these corrections and clarifications clearly demonstrate, it is totally incorrect to claim that the FEI Dressage Committee “deliberately took action to further disadvantage the region”.
FEI Director Dressage and Para Equestrian Dressage