Chairman of the London Organising Committee Praises Equestrian Sport

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has described equestrian as “o

By: FEI |

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has described equestrian as “one of the great Olympic sports”.

Lord Coe, who was elected as the new chairman of the British Olympic Association yesterday, addressed the FEI General Assembly in Istanbul (TUR) via video link today, congratulating the FEI and its President, HRH Princess Haya, on an “exceptional Olympic equestrian event” at London 2012.

“It would be remiss of me not to immediately congratulate the FEI President and all her team for helping us to deliver just an exceptional Olympic equestrian event,” he said. “Our opportunity to bring the sport into the city centre was one that we wanted to grasp with both hands and I want to thank Princess Haya and her Board for helping to do that in such an extraordinarily successful way.

“To have Greenwich Park, a park of historical importance anywhere in the world, but, within that park, to be able to stage one of the great Olympic sports, was really for me the icing on the cake.”

Lord Coe also complimented the FEI on clean Games, following the Federation’s announcement that all human and equine samples taken at the Olympic and Paralympic Games tested negative for any prohibited substances.

“Fair play starts at the very top of an organisation, so if a sport comes out of a major Games being able to turn to the world and say that we delivered, to the best of our knowledge, a clean event, this is a very important vote of confidence, both in the sport, in the hierarchy of the sport, clearly the competitors, and an important message more broadly for young people, that this is a sport that does not tolerate performance enhancing drugs.

“My lasting and overarching message and one suffused with eternal gratitude, and particularly to Princess Haya, is the extraordinary help and collegiate work that was done together to deliver what I think was arguably one of the greatest Olympic equestrian events in the heart of a community.

“We wanted to inspire a generation, particularly a generation who may never have experienced a particular sport before and I think we met that ambition.”

The video message was relayed to 252 delegates from 80 National Federations that attended the FEI General Assembly, which ended in Istanbul this afternoon after four days of meetings. The FEI Awards gala dinner, which celebrates the best in horse sport with the announcement of winners in five categories, takes place tonight.

Full transcript of Lord Coe’s video address to the FEI General Assembly, November 8, 2012:

“Well first of all it would be remiss of me not to immediately congratulate the FEI President and all her teams for helping us to deliver an exceptional Olympic equestrian event. The one thing that we were always conscious of from the very beginning was that of all the countries in the world where there is an equestrian history it is Britain.

“Our opportunity to bring the sport into the city centre was one that we wanted to grasp with both hands and I want to thank Princess Haya and her Board for helping to do that in such an extraordinarily successful way.
To have Greenwich Park, a park of historical importance anywhere in the world, but, within that park, to be able to stage one of the great Olympic sports, was really for me the icing on the cake.

“One of the key challenges and a massive responsibility for the Organising Committee was that although Greenwich Park is an extraordinary park, it is also a site of national and international heritage, so we were acutely conscious of that particularly in terms of the time of overlay the sometimes sensitive areas that we were looking to exploit in the park that we handed the park back in as good a shape as we took it over and making sure we delivered an event that was sustainable and responsible but that would allow as many people who probably had no familiarity at all with equestrian sport to get up close and personal with the activity.

“The most important issue that all sporting organisations deal with is that fair play is not simply a concept rooted in the field of play, and nor is it just simply rooted as a concept amongst competitors. No, fair play starts at the very top of an organisation, so if a sport comes out of a major Games being able to turn to the world and say that we delivered, to the best of our knowledge, a clean event, this is a very important vote of confidence, both in the sport, in the hierarchy of the sport, clearly the competitors, and an important message more broadly for young people, that this is a sport that does not tolerate performance enhancing drugs.

“My lasting and overarching message and one suffused with eternal gratitude, and particularly to Princess Haya, is the extraordinary help and collegiate work that was done together to deliver what I think was arguably one of the greatest Olympic equestrian events in the heart of a community, many of whom have probably never seen equestrian sport before, and it met every legacy ambition that we created in Singapore when we nudged across the line and were given the right to stage the Games and we wanted to inspire a generation, particularly a generation who may never have experienced a particular sport before and I think we met that ambition.”