The UIPM World Cup season has been put on hold because of the coronavirus ©UIPM

The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) has postponed the remainder of its World Cup season and asked for an extension to its Olympic qualification period due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World Cup events in Sofia and Budapest, and the final in Seoul, are set to be rescheduled for May and June "if appropriate arrangements can be made", the UIPM said in a statement.

Sofia had been due to host the second leg of the World Cup series, which opened in Cairo last month, from April 2 to 5, while the competition in Budapest had been scheduled for April 29 to May 3.

The World Cup final had been set for South Korea's capital from May 14 to 17.

The UIPM said it currently planned to hold the Modern Pentathlon World Championships, moved to Cancun from Xiamen last month because of the COVID-19 outbreak, as planned from May 25 to 31.

Modern pentathlon's qualification deadline for Tokyo 2020 is May 31, but the UIPM has asked the IOC for an extension until June 30.

A number of other International Federations (IFs) have also made the same request to the IOC, which is likely to be accepted given the disruption the virus has caused to Tokyo 2020 qualification.

The UIPM World Cup season began in Cairo last month ©UIPM
The UIPM World Cup season began in Cairo last month ©UIPM

The IOC has promised flexible and fair solutions for athletes whose attempts to qualify for Tokyo 2020 have been hindered by the virus.

"We need to do all we can to protect the Olympic qualification process in modern pentathlon so that all athletes can have a fair chance of fulfilling their dreams of taking part in Tokyo," UIPM and IOC vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch said.

"We are all very aware of the developing international situation in relation to the coronavirus outbreak and the difficulties it is causing for federations and athletes.

"Nobody can know what the situation will be in two or three months' time, so I am convinced that UIPM is doing the right thing in making this provisional decision about the 2020 season. 

"We will be guided by the advice of the relevant health authorities at every stage."

Dozens of events, including Olympic qualifiers and World Championships, have been postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to latest figures, more than 6,600 people have died from the virus, which has infected over 170,000 worldwide.