One Olympic sport will learn next month that its Games future is in jeopardy when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meets to decide the shape of the summer Games from 2020.
The IOC’s executive board, meeting in Lausanne on February 12 and 13, will pick a core of 25 summer Olympic sports that will be put to a single vote at their session in Argentina in September.
“The IOC in February is expected to make a recommendation on the 25 core sports to be put up for a vote in Buenos Aires,” an IOC official said on Wednesday.
The organisation will recommend one sport to be cut from the original list of 26. Rugby and golf, which are being added to the Games from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, will not be part of the process.
The decisions of the executive board will need to be ratified by the session in Buenos Aires but it is unlikely that the board’s recommendation would be overturned.
Several Olympic sports are reportedly at greater risk, with modern pentathlon among those mentioned most.
The IOC is eager to revamp the Games’ sports programme in an effort to keep up with the times and attract younger fans and sponsors as well as to rein in the size of the Games and keep the number of summer sports at a maximum of 28.
Modern pentathlon with its five disciplines of pistol shooting, fencing, show jumping, swimming and running, is an outdated sport with little global TV and sponsor appeal, critics say.
“I do not want to start a discussion about pentathlon at the Games because we are focusing on our sport alone,” international federation chief Klaus Schormann said after its executive board meeting on Wednesday.
“We have modernised our sport, we have presented and delivered,” he said of several innovations, including laser pistols at the London 2012 Games.
The sport was brought into the modern Games by its founder Pierre de Coubertin.
“What we have developed not only underlines the legacy of De Coubertin but also of modern pentathlon. We deliver on what we promise.”
The federation has been trying hard to increase the sport’s appeal to broadcasters and spectators by cutting events down to one day and they are eager to take it a step further with a single venue hosting all disciplines in Rio.
There are seven candidate sports for a place on the programme with baseball and softball, off the Games since Beijing in 2008, making a joint bid for re-entry.
Chinese martial arts sport wushu, sport climbing, roller sports, squash, karate and wakeboarding are also in the running for an Olympic spot.
The sport recommended by February’s meeting to be dropped will automatically become a candidate sport, with the IOC then recommending one of the eight bidding sports for inclusion at its board meeting in late May in St Petersburg.
Olympic acceptance gives a sport instant publicity and increased funding while Games exclusion, especially for less-popular sports, translates into money problems and severely limited global exposure.
“We look confidently into the future,” said Schormann when asked again about the IOC meeting. “We know the IOC will deal with the report on what we have achieved. We do not just talk, we deliver.”