July 23, 2021 the Games will begin. Canada is sending 371 athletes and this is the largest team since the Los Angeles games in 1984. It seems almost unbelievable that, at last, these Olympics will actually take place. For the Equestrians there has been not only the Global Pandemic but a serious outbreak in Europe of Equine Herpes virus. Horses had their own virus outbreak! Despite all that there are a record number of countries sending horse and rider combinations to these Olympics to compete in the disciplines of Dressage, Jumping and Eventing. There will be 50 nations, represented by 200 athlete and horse combinations, over the two weeks of equestrian competition
This has been achieved by reducing the number of members in a team to three. This has allowed many more countries to participate. However this increases the pressure on each team member dramatically. Here are some of the numbers courtesy of Horse Sport
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a total of 27 nations lined out in Jumping, with 15 of those sending teams, while this time 20 teams and individuals from a further 15 countries will take part to boost the number of National Olympic Committees (NOC) represented in Tokyo to 35. In Eventing the number of participating countries has increased from 24 to 29, with 15 teams compared to 13 in Rio, and in Dressage the numbers jump from 25 to 30 nations and from 11 teams to 15.Horse Sport magazine
Some History of Olympic Equestrian competition
The Baji Koen Equestrian Park has seen equestrian events before as it was the venue for Dressage at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Equestrian sport first appeared in the modern Olympics in 1912.
Canada’s Equestrian, Ian Millar, has competed in TEN Olympic Games. This is the most Olympic appearances by any athlete in any sport. He first competed at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and his last Olympic appearance was at London 2012 at the age of 65. He won team silver at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping.
Here are the stats for Tokyo 2020 (again courtesy of Horse Sport):
Jumping: 35 countries, 20 teams, 75 horse/athlete combinations
Eventing: 29 countries, 15 teams, 65 horse/athlete combinations
Dressage: 30 countries, 15 teams, 60 horse/athlete combinations
The Tokyo 2020 sport entries (FEI Definite Entries) also include additional reserve horses and riders.
The 50 NOCs represented in equestrian sport at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of South Africa, ROC, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Taipei, Ukraine and USA.
Finally it has been announced that there will be NO Spectators at these Games due to the dangers of Covid. These Games will be unlike any before them. I know that I and many others are hoping they will go ahead without any Covid upsets. Let’s hope they will be a revelation of enduring human spirit and resilience!
I will be following the three Canadian Dressage riders: Brittany Fraser and her horse All In , Lindsay Kellock and Sebastien, and Chris von Martels with Eclips. I will post updates as soon as I have them and I am hoping that the COC media will be making photos available as well. BEST WISHES TO ALL OUR CANADIAN ATHLETES!