It has been a dream of many vaulters, and it’s getting closer to a reality: we might see vaulting in the Youth Olympics Games (YOG) soon. If you wonder how, keep reading!

The FEI General Assembly occurred a few days ago in Manama, Bahrain, and we received a news that filled us of hopefulness.

> About the FEI General Assembly

The General Assembly takes place every year and acts as a platform for discussion, debating and voting on the major decisions of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) and the governance of the equestrian disciplines.  

The FEI itself describes it as follows:

“The General Assembly governs the overall direction, development and management of the FEI’s disciplines worldwide. Elections are held at the General Assembly and decisions are taken, by vote, on changes to FEI Statutes, long-term strategies, FEI budgets and important equestrian matters.”

Among all the decisions that have been made, we will mostly remember that the WEG format is jeopardized, after the difficult edition of Tryon 2018, in the USA: there is currently no host for the edition of 2022. As a consequence, the FEI might choose to return to separate championships for each discipline, even though the preference for multi-discipline events is clear.

“This does not necessarily mean the end of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ and bids to host all-discipline Games will still be considered.”

Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI General Secretary

> What about Vaulting?

The good point is that vaulting seems to be more and more appreciated by the decision-makers and we are lucky enough to be in the re-elected President’s heart, Ingmar De Vos. During the Assembly, he “mentioned his intention to work on a proposal for the inclusion of Vaulting on the Youth Olympic Program”.

This is nothing big enough to catch fire, but it is definitely a sentence that caught all our attention. Our imagination is arousing from now on, and this creates some expectancy from all of us regarding the future of our discipline.

The FEI President came personally to watch vaulting during the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon. Apparently he’s willing to stand for our sport and opened a discussion with the International Olympic Committee since then.

Nathalie Gautier
Photo: Nathalie Gautier

> What are the Youth Olympic Games (YOG)?

The Youth Olympic Games are an elite sporting event for young people from all over the world.

Some key figures of the Summer YOG:

200 countries

3,500 athletes

12 days of competitions

athletes from 15 to 18 years old

28 sports

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) created this event with an educational role:

“An event distinct from other youth sports events, as they also integrate a unique Culture and Education Programme (CEP), based around five main themes:

Olympism

Social Responsibility

Skills Development

Expression and Well-being

Healthy Lifestyles.”

This program aims to teach the athletes about the Olympic values, make them meet other cultures and learn how to become true ambassadors of their discipline. The 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games just happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina from the 6th to 18th of October of this year.

Watch the Equestrian Teams having fun in Buenos Aires here:

> How could vaulting be part of the Olympics?

The specific nature of the YOG is to be used as an incubator for innovation for the International Sports Federations. They can therefore innovate and develop their sports through the YOG and propose new events and formats of competition (such as international mixed teams, changing distances, introducing new disciplines). In our case, the FEI needs to convince the IOC to integrate vaulting into their YOG program. That would be a first step. The goal of being part of the Olympics is still far ahead from us, as there are many criteria to meet:

First of all and of course, a sport must be governed by an International Federation which undertakes to follow the rules of the Olympic Charter, which is a basic condition for recognition by the IOC. It must also be practised widely across the world. After that, the IOC ‘s Executive Board may recommend that a recognised sport be added to the Games programme, if the IOC Session* approves it.

*The IOC Session and Executive Board are responsible for taking the main decisions for the organization.

The 35 criteria to evaluate a sport are the following:

1. Olympic proposal: 

  • Number and list of events
  • Competition format
  • Days of competition
  • Quota of athletes and officials
  • Participation of best athletes
  • Venues (number, permanent/temporary, capacity, field of play specifications)

2. Value added to the Olympic Movement: 

  • Games-time
  • Legacy
  • Youth

3. Institutional matters: 

  • Year of establishment of the International Federation
  • Year of IOC recognition of the International Federation
  • Number of World Championships held to date
  • Number of member National Federations corresponding to NOCs
  • Number of National Federations that took part in the last World Championship
  • Number of National Federations per continent that medaled in the last World Championship
  • Percentage of National Federations that organise National Championships
  • Other disciplines managed by the International Federation that are not part of the Olympic proposal
  • Gender equality in the Executive Board (or highest decision making body) of the International Federation
  • Finance (share of income generated by marketing/broadcasting, share of expenditures allocated to development)
  • Anti-doping (compliance with WADA code)
  • Court of Arbitration for Sport (compliance with CAS)
  • Competition manipulation (rules in place to fight against competition fixing)
  • Code of Ethics (availability and compliance)
  • Athletes’ Commission (existence of an Athletes’ Commission and representation in decision making body)
  • Entourage Commission (existence of an Entourage Commission and representation in decision making body)
  • Women and Sport Commission (existence of a Women and Sport Commission and representation in decision making body)
  • Medical Commission (existence of a Medical Commission and representation in decision making body)
  • Athletes’ health, safety and security (existence and implementation of guidelines)

4. Popularity: 

  • Ticket sales and attendance (last World Championship)
  • Media accreditation granted (last World Championship)
  • TV coverage (last World Championship)
  • Digital media (last World Championship)
  • Host country popularity (participants, events, results, viewership)

5. Business model

  • Potential costs (venues, broadcast, technology)
  • Targeted additional revenues during the Olympic Games (ticketing, licensing, sponsorship)
Photo: Charles Deluvio
Photo: Charles Deluvio

Let’s remember that vaulting was part, one single time, of the Olympics: 1920 Antwerp Games. At that time, equestrian sports in the Olympics had a strong military orientation. Years later, vaulting also appeared as an artistic demonstration at both the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and the Atlanta Games of 1996.

Today, we are ready to take the challenge again!

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Sources:

Eurosport

FEI

International Olympic Committee