Equestrian sports at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics: all eventing rules and other details



Eventing is one of the most suitable sports for the Olympics, but also the most dangerous. At the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, the eventing competition will feature some of the world’s best dueling for gold, silver and bronze. Not only does the team benefit, but individual medals are also up for grabs.


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Eventing at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games

Torches are pictured during the Torch Kiss event, after the public road relay was canceled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, during the Torch Relay celebration Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in Sammu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan on July 1, 2021. REUTERS / Issei Kato TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In eventing, competitors take part in a series of competitions, ranging from cross country, dressage and show jumping. Yes, eventing includes the other two major sports of horseback riding. In addition to having their own separate competitions, they have special significance in eventing. This is why the eventing is the triathlon of horseback riding.


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Eventing gained its Olympic spot in 1912, with military officers demonstrating their skills with their horses. After a century it has become a magnificent but deadly sport, practiced by many but perfected by few. In the past we have seen legendary performances including Sir Mark Todd from New Zealand, Michael Jung from Germany and Michael Plumb from the United States.

In terms of danger, eventing has resulted in the deaths of many runners over the past decades. Between 1997 and 2008, 37 riders lost their lives in eventing. Danger to the horse is as much of a concern as the safety of the rider, with measures in place to prevent damage.

The outfit of the rider depends on the phase. For cross country runners must wear a body protection vest and an Olympic approved helmet. Lightweight polo shirts are preferred attire and gloves are not required. For dressage, dress must meet Grand Prix dressage standards. from the stock tie to the long boots.

Structure for the eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021

The structure of eventing competitions at the Olympic Games has changed several times, but is in accordance with FEI regulations. The main reason for these changes is the grueling tasks that rider-horse combinations have to perfect in the hunt for gold. What started out as a five-day event is now a three-day event that includes five rounds.

The same horse applies to each event, which means that the rider-athlete combination must train three times as much. In the dressage test, the combined perform a series of tests (walk, gallop and trot). The cross-country event has 40 to 45 obstacles that the horse must overcome in a limited time. Finally, the jump requires combinations to cross a field of 9 to 12 obstacles.

The penalty point system came into effect in 1971 and is the way to reduce points for errors. We will move on to the scoring of the rules section after discussing the eventing format. Fifteen teams participate with three runners each. Individual and team competitions take place simultaneously, like dressage.

Rules and scores for the eventing


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Eventing combines three equestrian sports, which makes scoring extremely complicated. Dressage is subjective scoring with judges scoring combinations out of ten. These scores are converted to percentages and the penalty points are reduced to this score which rounds off to a decimal number.

For cross country, points are deducted for jumping errors and exceeding the time limit. In show jumping, twenty penalty points apply for an obstacle refusal (if the horse refuses to cross an obstacle) and 40 for the second refusal. Points apply even for the accuracy of the jump, with fifteen to twenty points awarded depending on the error. The fall of the horse results in automatic elimination.

Team medals are awarded based on the combined scores of all team members over the three phases. Athletes looking for individual medals find it more difficult as they compete in an additional jump event, making it one performance in cross country, one in dressage, and two in show jumping.


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