Modern pentathlon, the only sport specifically designed for the Olympics, is proposing a revolutionary new concept for Rio 2016 that would see all five events staged in the same arena.
It is the latest idea trailed by a sport increasingly fearing its place on the Olympic program is under threat after the next Games.
Under the new concept released today by the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM), spectators would be able to watch the five sports, starting with swimming, then moving onto fencing and show riding and the combined shoot-run, in the same stadium.
Discussions are currently taking place with Rio 2016, UIPM officials claimed. But, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told insidethegames that they have not received an official request from the UIPM to approve the new format.
“After 15 years of exciting innovations in modern pentathlon I welcome you to our newest concept, the Pentathlon Stadium,” said Dr h.c. Klaus Schormann. “Now a spectator can watch five disciplines in five hours with one ticket from one seat. This revolutionary innovation will make its Olympic debut in Rio 2016 and will once again enhance our great sport to the spectators and media.”
Modern pentathlon has made a number of radical changes since it narrowly avoided being axed from the Olympic program for London 2012 at the IOC Session in Singapore in July 2005. These have included, in 2009, combining the shoot and run so that they are held in tandem, similar to the biathlon. Then in 2010 the pistols were changed to a laser weapon instead of an actual projectile.
Under the latest proposals, the cross country run would be replaced by the run taking place on a traditional 400 meters athletics track. Another change will see the fencing action now take place on one piste in an ladder, knock out system that ranks the fencers based on the results of the traditional fencing round held the day before and has them battling one another to improve their place and determine the overall winner.
“The Pentathlon Stadium, is the latest innovation in modern pentathlon, after the highly successful implementation of environmentally and spectator friendly laser shooting and the combined event in London 2012 which resulted in it’s the highest ever media interest at the Olympic Games,” said Schormann. “All these innovations target the world’s youth, as they are the future of our sport. The young athletes were the first to try laser shooting at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and they will benefit from the new Pentathlon Stadium concept, as it will make the sport quicker and more exciting which is attractive to the fast paced life of today’s younger generation.”
Modern pentathlon was invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Games, and its name derives Greek penta- “five” and -athlon “contest.”
The addition of modern to the name distinguished it from the original pentathlon of the Ancient Olympic Games, which consisted of the stadium foot race, wrestling, long jump, javelin, and discus.
As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run. It made its Olympic debut at Stockholm in 1912, when it was won by Sweden’s Gösta Lilliehöök, and has been on the program ever since.
Originally the modern pentathlon took place over four or five days but the one-day format was introduced for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. But, its lack of popularity outside Europe appears to have left it vulnerable to being removed from the Olympic program.
The IOC’s ruling Executive Board is due at its next meeting in Lausanne on February 12 and 13 to discuss which of the 26 sports that were part of London 2012 should be removed from the core program and added to the seven who are currently bidding to be part of 2020.
It is considered by most experts that whichever sport is added to that group, which includes baseball/softball, climbing, karate, rollersports, squash, wakeboarding and wushu, will not survive as an Olympic sport.
Modern pentathlon was widely considered fortunate not to have been axed for London 2012, when baseball and softball were dropped from the program.
Schormann had first floated the idea then of holding the event in one arena for London but the idea never got off the ground.
To read “Alan Hubbard: It would be tragic if De Coubertin’s baby, modern pentathlon, was thrown out of the Olympics” click here.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that helped put on the recent Summer Olympics. This article is reprinted here with permission of the authors of the blog.