Paris, the City of Light, will welcome the world to the XXXIII Olympiad in one year, presenting 19 days of competition from 26 July to 11 August 2024 over 41 competition sites including the spectacular equestrian venue at the Palace of Versailles.
Once home to the kings and queens of France, and developed to majestic proportions by the “Sun King” Louis XIV, who believed that everything revolved around him, the Palace is considered one of the most extravagant and beautiful in Europe. And not for the first time, the sound of galloping hooves will be heard across its beautiful gardens as athletes and their horses go for gold in the three equestrian Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping.
Equestrian sport’s Olympic history officially began at the 5th Games staged in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912 where Swedish riders claimed Team gold in Jumping and Eventing and Individual gold in Dressage and Eventing. Only Frenchman Capt Jean Cariou broke the host nation’s grip on the top step of the podium when winning the Individual Jumping title in a jump-off against Germany’s Lt Rabod W. von Kröcher that year.
Paris 2024 marks exactly a century since equestrian sport at the Olympic Games came under the jurisdiction of the FEI in 1924, and the battle for qualification is as intense as ever. Teams of three will compete in all three disciplines and France, as host country, is automatically qualified in each discipline.
In Dressage, there will be a maximum of 60 competitors, with 15 teams of three along with 15 individuals. Already joining the host nation of France are teams from Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, and USA, who claimed the top six places at the FEI Dressage World Championship 2022 in Herning (DEN) last summer where Australia also made the cut as the highest-ranked team from Olympic Group G.
Poland claimed the single qualifying spot on offer at the Group C qualifier in Budapest (HUN) last month. There are three places to be filled at the forthcoming FEI Dressage European Championship 2023, which will take place in Riesenbeck (GER) from 4 to 10 September, while countries from Groups D and/or E will be chasing the two spots on offer at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago (CHI), which run from 26 to 29 October.
Individual quota places will be decided based on team uptake and the FEI Olympic Rankings.
In Eventing, there will be a maximum of 65 athletes consisting of 16 teams of three and 17 individuals. Here the French will be joined by Germany, USA, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland, who, in that order, claimed the top seven places up for grabs at the FEI Eventing World Championship staged at Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA) last September.
Team Poland also made the cut at the Group C qualifier staged on their home turf in Baborowko two months ago, while Australia and China grabbed the two spots on offer at the Group F and G qualifier in Millstreet (IRL) in June. Two teams will qualify at the upcoming FEI European Championships in Haras du Pin (FRA), which will take place from 9 to 13 August.
Of the 16 competing teams, 14 places are allocated through qualifying events and one through the final classification of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2023 series, which will conclude at Boekelo (NED) on 8 October. The 2023 Pan American Games in October also offer spots for teams from Olympic Groups D and/or E not already qualified.
There are 14 individual quota places available through the seven FEI Olympic Ranking groups, and a further three through standings on the overall FEI Olympic Ranking list.
In Jumping there will be a maximum of 75 athletes including 20 teams and 15 individuals.
To date the French are joined by Sweden, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany, who took the top-five qualifying places at the FEI Jumping World Championship 2022 in Herning (DEN); Belgium, who clinched the spot on offer at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2022; Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who earned their places at the Group F qualifier in Doha (QAT) in February; and Australia and Japan, who booked their tickets at last week’s Group G qualifier in Valkenswaard (NED).
There are still nine team spots left to be decided in this discipline, with two open to countries from Group C in Prague (CZE) this coming weekend and three more on offer at the FEI Jumping European Championship in Milan (ITA) in early September. There is a single spot up for grabs at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2023 in Barcelona (ESP) on 1 October, and later that month, countries from Olympic Groups D and/or E will be chasing three team and three individual slots at the Pan American Games.
The remaining 12 individual slots will be filled through the FEI Olympic rankings list.
In all, a total of 10,500 athletes will line out in 32 sports and 329 events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games for which 7 million of the 10 million tickets available are already sold to the general public.
These Games will be the biggest event ever organised in France and will set new sustainability standards for major sporting events, reducing the Games’ carbon footprint by half compared to the average of London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Paris 2024 hails the “New Era” of Olympic Games – the first to be planned and delivered in line with the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, creating social and economic opportunities that are accessible to everyone and located in a more urban and compact setting.
Breaking with tradition, for the first time in the history of the Summer Olympic Games, the opening ceremony will not take place in a stadium. Instead, it will be held on the main artery of the city, the River Seine, along which athletes in boats allocated to each delegation will travel a 6 kilometre route from east to west, ending up at Trocadéro, the expansive complex of museums, sculptures, gardens, and fountains with stunning views across the river to the iconic Eiffel Tower.
On 26 July 2024 new Olympic stories will begin to unfold, and new equestrian Olympic dreams will begin to be realised.
by Louise Parkes