LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC leaders met Tuesday to decide which sport to drop from the summer Olympic program, with modern pentathlon the most at risk.
The IOC executive board convened to review the 26 current Olympic sports and remove one from the program of the 2020 Games. Eliminating one sport will allow the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.
Under the closest scrutiny was modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games. It was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.
Modern pentathlon combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — the five skills required of a 19th century cavalry officer. The sport's governing body, the UIPM, has been lobbying hard to protect its Olympic status.
UIPM President Klaus Schormann had considered traveling from Germany to Lausanne for the decision, but decided to stay away.
"The Olympic movement always needs history," Schormann told The Associated Press ahead of the IOC decision. "You cannot just say we look only at the future. You can have a future when you are stable on the basic part of history. We are continuing to develop, to renovate, to be innovative and creative. We are very proud of what we achieved so far and want to deliver this as well for the next generations in 2020."
The executive board was reviewing a report from the IOC program commission assessing each of the 26 sports contested at last year's London Olympics.
The report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.
Taekwondo, the Korean martial art that has been in the Olympics since 2000, has also been mentioned as being among the sports in potential danger. The sport introduced a new scoring system in London to eliminate judging controversies and the gold medals, previously dominated by South Koreans, were spread among eight different nations.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Baseball and softball have combined forces to seek inclusion in 2020, competing against karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. Whichever sport is dropped Tuesday will join those seven vying for the single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.