UIPM vice-president Joël Bouzou believes competition for a place on the Olympic programme will continue to increase ©Getty Images

International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) vice-president Joël Bouzou has stressed the need to be open to change saying he expects competition to be part of the Olympic programme will continue to grow in intensity.

His warning comes after UIPM held a series of video conferences aimed at increasing awareness of the new 90-minute format proposed for Paris 2024.

The UIPM has also applied to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a mixed relay event that would increase the medals on offer in modern pentathlon from six to nine.

The IOC Programme Commission is expected to make recommendations about the composition of the Paris 2024 programme on November 30.

A meeting is then scheduled to take place on December 7 when the IOC Executive Board will decide the final programme.

Modern pentathlon was introduced by Pierre de Coubertin for the 1912 Olympics and has featured in every Games since then.

"We are in a competition for survival and we need to always remain open to adaptation and change," said Bouzou.

"Although modern pentathlon is secure on the programme for Paris 2024, competition will continue to be intense for future Olympic Games and we must always look forward.

"I give my full support to the new format proposed for Paris 2024, which is fully in line with the spirit and the values of its creator, Pierre de Coubertin."

Juan Antonio Samaranch, UIPM first vice-president and former IOC vice-president, also emphasised the importance of developing the sport in a bid to be "attractive" to younger audiences.

"Modern pentathlon has been subject to innovation for as long as I can remember," said Samaranch.

UIPM is proposing a new 90-minute format for the Paris 2024 Olympics ©Getty Images
UIPM is proposing a new 90-minute format for the Paris 2024 Olympics ©Getty Images

"At the Olympic Games it has evolved from a five-day competition – with a rest day – to an event that can now be decided in a few hours.

"We have a responsibility to prove the worth of modern pentathlon to the Olympic Games and the proposed changes to the sport for Paris 2024 give us the opportunity to demonstrate that."

Sessions were held online with athletes on November 11, coaches on November 18 and National Federations on November 24 where they were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the changes.

The new format would see all five disciplines take place in 90 minutes with breaks accounted for between events.

"On behalf of the UIPM Executive Board I would like to thank all members of the global modern pentathlon family who have taken part in the recent video conferences," said Klaus Schormann, President of UIPM.

"This is a very important moment in the evolution of our sport, which has seen many big changes already.

"At a time when our community is separated by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud of the way our athletes, coaches and federations have come together for these discussions about the new format proposed for the Olympic Summer Games Paris 2024.

"It is essential that we stand united, especially at this time."

The 90-minute format has faced criticism from some athletes, including Olympic silver medallist Pavlo Tymoshchenko who felt it would make the sport "even more incomprehensible".

Pavlo Tymoshchenko, who won silver at Rio 2016, has criticised the new format ©Getty Images
Pavlo Tymoshchenko, who won silver at Rio 2016, has criticised the new format ©Getty Images

But the UIPM claim the changes will make modern pentathlon more sustainable and cost-effective for the future.

Aya Medany, chair of the UIPM Athletes Committee, said a "clear message" had been provided during the video conferences and thanked the governing body for the communication.

"I am grateful to all athletes who attended the call on November 11 and asked questions and spoke honestly about their concerns," said Medany.

"It was also useful to hear from the National Federations during the video conference on November 24."

Test events were held in Budapest in Hungary and Cairo in Egypt where the UIPM received "positive feedback".

The UIPM said several National Federations had offered to host further test events in 2021.

Sharif Elerian, President of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation, added: "As one of the organisers of the test events in November, I would like to say that the new format is excellent and I observed that the people who took part were convinced about it.

"I congratulate UIPM on their innovation."