The format changes aimed at enabling more countries to send riders to the Olympic Games have resulted in a net increase of just five extra flags at Tokyo.
Forty-eight countries have qualified either teams and/or individuals, compared with 43 at Rio de Janeiro 2016 and 41 in London 2012. Last-minute shuffling resulted from Qatar losing its team jumping place to Morocco after the FEI Tribunal disqualified, on February 15, two Qatari riders who tested positive to cannabis at their qualifying nations cup in October.
Luxembourg (dressage individual), Pakistan (eventing individual) and Israel (jumping team) qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time. Latvia’s individual quota slot for Jumping would mean a first Games start after a 32-year absence, having last competed in Seoul 1988. The Czech Republic and Hong Kong, both qualified for an individual place in eventing, plan a return for the first time since Beijing 2008. The number of nations represented in jumping rises from 27 in Rio to 35 in Tokyo, dressage from 25 to 30 and eventing from 24 to 30.
The FEI had aimed to accommodate more countries with the overall Olympic limit of 200 horses by reducing teams from four riders to three, which had the effect of opening up more places for individuals. The target originally discussed when the changes were made was 55.
The final hurdle is not over for some, as Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) have to be confirmed by June 1. The final athlete/horse combinations for the three disciplines will be announced on 6 July 2020.
Failure to obtain MERs at the team qualification stage has already resulted in three countries having to give up their places ‒ Ukraine in jumping and Brazil and South Africa in dressage. Canada lost its team place in jumping following Nicole Walker’s cocaine positive at the Pan-Ams last year.