The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) has confirmed horse riding will be dropped from the sport after the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The UIPM Executive Board approved recommendations to replace the discipline this week, with the international governing body saying it was a “historic move” for the sport which would boost its suitability for future Olympics.
It comes after widespread criticism during Tokyo 2020, when Germany’s modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner was disqualified for hitting a horse.
The incident occurred as Raisner was trying to assist modern pentathlete Annika Schleu, who was seen visibly struggling to control Saint Boy, the horse she had been assigned to jump with.
“On behalf of the UIPM Executive Board I ask our global community to embrace change and grasp the momentous opportunity before us,” UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said in a statement, adding that all changes will be implemented in time for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“A new discipline will provide fresh impetus to our sport and strengthen the position of Modern Pentathlon within the Olympic movement.
“The Modern Pentathlon will remain a five-discipline sport and will continue to provide the ultimate moral and physical examination of an athlete.”
Modern Pentathlon has been part of the Olympic movement since it was introduced by Pierre de Coubertin at the 1912 Games in Stockholm.
‘World’s attitude toward the exploitation of horses has evolved’
Swimming, fencing, running and shooting will remain consistent disciplines – the latter two have since been combined into one Laser Run event – but it is currently unclear what will replace horse riding.
There had been reports that cycling would be included but the UIPM told CNN that this was currently not the case.
The move was welcomed by animal rights group PETA, which had recommended the sport drop the riding discipline.
“The world’s attitude toward the exploitation of horses has evolved, and there’s no room for punishing terrified animals in the show ring,” it said in a statement.
“PETA looks forward to the new cruelty-free pentathlon.”
Meanwhile, pentathletes around the world have been left stunned by the decision to change the sport so drastically.
“Riding in our sport isn’t perfect, everyone saw what happened in Tokyo,” Olympic champion Joe Choong said on Twitter.
“Athletes & coaches have known there are problems, but it’s hard to make the sport safer for horses, and athletes, when the UIPM won’t even consult us on literally the biggest decision ever made for the sport.”