September 19, 2019
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FEI president says equestrian sport is Olympic champions in gender equality

By José Miguel Pascual Labrador

Rotterdam, Netherlands, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The president of the International Equestrian Federation boasted on Friday that his organization's sport is the only one at the Olympics in which women and men compete equally in different disciplines.

Ingmar De Vos, who has been leading the federation since 2014 and is also member of the International Olympic Committee, explained in an interview with Efe that gender equality is an important issue in society, and this consolidates the sport's position within the Olympic movement.

The Belgian said that whenever he meets IOC President Thomas Bach, he reminds him that equestrian sports are "the Olympic champions in gender equality".

At the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, in the main disciplines - dressage, jumping and para-dressage - the medals went to 19 men and 17 women, with all gold medals going to women, which shows, in his opinion, that "there is real gender equality".

It was in the United States that the FEI had to deal with its last controversy due to problems in the organization of the event: "We had to open the bid for the venue twice and in the end we accepted Tryon. They had a credible plan but due to certain circumstances some construction work was not ready on time."

De Vos said they learned "the lesson" and that is why they chose Rotterdam as the venue for the 2019 European Equestrian Championships, which are being held from 19 to 25 August.

"We want to go to venues that have organizational experience, venues that already exist to guarantee that the sport can be practiced at the highest level," he added.

In the Dutch city, athletes are competing, in addition to medals, for a place at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo.

Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands qualified in previous tournaments, while other countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom are fighting for a spot at the Olympics.

The FEI president said that they have been working with the Japanese for some time to offer "the highest level" and, above all, to address his "first priority", the horses' welfare.

His commitment is such that he says that "if we are not able to guarantee" that horses are looked after correctly the competition will not be held, although he trusts the Japanese organizers have prepared well the historic venue, which hosted the sport in 1964.

Looking ahead, De Vos believes that equestrian sports are in a process of "modernization" with which it seeks to "attract young people" and turn it into "a passion" for them.

He believes that the solution may be to develop shorter competition fomats, especially in dressage, which are exciting without making it less technical.

Due to the complexity of some of its categories they want to offer explanatory graphics so that the public can understand when a move is good or a mistake.

As for distribution, the federation is working on agreements with different digital platforms so that young people can follow competitions and receive results on their mobile devices.

According to FEI, the horse riding sector is valued around 300 billion euros, including breeding, housing, logistics, nutrition, health, events, advertising, television production and sponsorships.

It has registered 22,136 riders and 49,159 horses competing internationally and 750 million followers globally. EFE-EPA

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