At the IOC session last weekend, Tokyo was named the host of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (which makes me two for two in that guessing game). As I predicted, Madrid were first out of the race, though it was nail-bitingly close.
There are few events at the Games which don’t excite me, but the ones that I look forward to the most are the equestrian events. The Japanese aren’t particularly famous for their success in this area of the Games – more for the top trivia tidbit of dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu being the oldest competitor at London 2012 – so it would’ve been unsurprising for them to de-prioritise equestrianism within their bid.
The location of equestrian events at multi-sport competitions is a matter of much debate: space is usually an issue, particularly when eventing is involved – cities which create a cross country course within a metropolitan area have to work very hard – as are logistics. My preference for London 2012 would’ve been for the equestrian events to be sited somewhere such as Windsor: using an existing and future venue, rather than a temporary one, but I think that the organisers did a fantastic job of ensuring a small legacy for this part of the Games by dismantling the fences and supplying them to other events.
In 2016, equestrianism is again exiled from the main Olympic and Paralympic site – something many athletes are used to and don’t ordinarily mind. However, Tokyo has chosen to follow London’s example and will position the equestrian events at Dream Island Stadium, an existing venue within Dream Island Park which will be returned to current use post-Games. This is brilliant news for those athletes who wish to feel more included within the Games as a whole, rather than a resource-heavy inconvenience. The greater concern at the moment within the equestrian community seems to be the fact that horses and riders will have to cope with conditions in physical climate similar to Beijing in 2008 (another host which removed equestrianism from the heart of the Games).
Congratulations to Tokyo on not only winning the bid, but being bold and allowing equestrianism a centre stage. I look forward to seeing how it works.