Public to see final horse inspection
William Fox-Pitt is likely to be one of the key members of Team GB's equestrian squad
London 2012 organisers have decided to allow public attendance at next month's Olympic eventing competition final horse inspection.
Spectators with tickets for the showjumping phase on July 31 will be allowed in to watch the final vet check, which starts at 8.15am. There will still be no public admittance, though, for the first horse inspection at Greenwich Park four days earlier.
The London Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG) recently found itself under attack from Badminton event director Hugh Thomas, one of the sport's leading administrators, who said it was "disgraceful" that London 2012 had refused to admit the public to the eventing horse inspections - traditionally a popular event.
Thomas, who has worked on previous Olympics as a course designer and senior official of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), sent an email to London 2012 equestrian manager Tim Hadaway protesting about the decision.
Thomas, who resigned from the committee that will oversee the Olympic competition, said he personally ensured at previous Games that inspections were open to the public. In addition to resigning, which LOCOG accepted, he also asked for his Olympics accreditation to be cancelled.
LOCOG said it regretted Thomas' decision, but cited operational factors for not allowing public attendance on July 27, which is also Games opening ceremony day and the torch relay's final day.
In a statement released on Friday, LOCOG said: "Spectator gates at Greenwich Park will now open at 7.45am on Tuesday 31 (July), and the horse inspection will begin at the later time of 8.15am. Tickets holders to the final jumping element of the eventing competition will therefore be able to see the entire last day process.
"The horse inspection involves all the horses still in the competition being presented to the ground jury to confirm their fitness to complete the jumping rounds. The final horse inspection has become a popular public feature at major events. LOCOG has worked hard to change the schedule to make this change possible."
A crowd of 20,000 is expected for the eventing finale, which should see the Great Britain team of William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Zara Phillips, Tina Cook and Piggy French contesting medals.
Ingmar De Vos, the FEI's secretary general, added: "The FEI is happy that LOCOG has revised the access schedule on July 31 to allow spectators into the venue in plenty of time to watch the final horse inspection for eventing. July 31 is a particularly important day for equestrian sport, as it is the day when the first medals will be decided in equestrian sport's centenary year."
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