Riding will be dropped from the modern pentathlon, the world governing body UIPM has confirmed today (4 November), as it opened a consultation on which sport should replace it.
H&H reported on Tuesday (2 November) on rumours that the UIPM executive board had taken the decision, which was confirmed today. Riding will stay in place for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but be replaced by Los Angeles 2028.
“The historic move comes after the UIPM executive board (EB) unanimously endorsed a series of recommendations made by the UIPM innovation commission after a two-day meeting in Monaco last week,” a UIPM spokesman said, adding that the commission was set up in 208 to “continuously monitor the composition of modern pentathlon and review its suitability for the Olympic Games in the context of Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5 – the strategic roadmap of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
The board agreed with the commission’s recommendation that riding be replaced with a discipline that “enhances the popularity and credibility of modern pentathlon, while preserving its status as the ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge – as envisaged by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games”.
The consultation, on which sport should replace riding, will include athletes, coaches, media and marketing partners, and UIPM said the replacement sport must meet certain criteria. These include following Baron de Coubertin’s vision of a complete athlete, not falling under the governance of another international federation recognised by the IOC, allow global accessibility, universality, equality and fairness and “be attractive and relevant for global youth and future generations”. It must also be exciting, easy to understand for spectators and low-cost for athletes and organisers.
UIPM president Klaus Schormann said: “The recommendations put forward by the UIPM innovation commission are in continuity with the tradition of innovation which UIPM has in its DNA.
“Many times in recent decades our sport has evolved to meet the changing expectations of the modern world. This evolution has created more appeal for young athletes and families, more value for spectators and TV/digital audiences, a reduced environmental impact and 100% gender equality since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
“We can be rightly proud of what our global family has achieved, and now the time has come to be bold and ambitious once again in following the strong recommendations of our UIPM innovation commission.
“On behalf of the UIPM executive board I ask our global community to embrace change and grasp the momentous opportunity before us. A new discipline will provide fresh impetus to our sport and strengthen the position of modern pentathlon within the Olympic movement.
“We now look forward to an inclusive and very positive consultation process as we consider which sporting discipline is the most suitable to take modern pentathlon into a new era, alongside swimming, fencing and laser run (laser shooting and running).”
UIPM first vice-president and IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr added: “This is a very important moment for modern pentathlon – and actually for the Olympic programme.
“We would be making a mistake if we were to take our place in the Olympic programme for granted past Paris 2024. It is not granted for us, it is not granted for anybody.”
In an open letter to pentathletes, UIPM said it realised the decision would be “surprising and even shocking” to them, adding that it is not long since it committed to reviewing and protecting the riding phase after the distressing scenes at the Tokyo Olympics.
“But life within the Olympic movement changes fast,” the letter read. “While our sport is confirmed for Paris 2024 with our exciting new format in place (including riding), Los Angeles 2028 is a different matter and we must be flexible and embrace change once again.
“Today we communicate the EB’s decision to you, with an assurance that you will be centrally involved in this consultation. Without our athletes, our movement would be nothing – and your voices must be heard.
“Once again, we find ourselves writing to ask for your support, your patience, your cooperation and collaboration – because we cannot implement the changes needed without athletes forming a strong backbone in our community.
“The transition will be hard, of course, but we ask you not only to see the difficulties in front of you, but also the opportunity awaiting you at the finish line. A sport with a unique heritage redeveloped for the 21st century and beyond. A sport that is sustainable and safe. A sport that anyone in the world can take part in – powered by the dream of becoming gold medallist in the Olympic Games’ most demanding sport.”
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