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IOC to decide which sport to drop
Stephen Wilson
10:09 AEST Sat Feb 9 2013

Removing a sport from the Olympics is one of the IOC's most sensitive tasks. After months of evaluation, a decision will come next week and the century-old competition of modern pentathlon appears the most at risk.

The IOC executive board will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, and announce on Tuesday which of the current 26 sports on the Olympic program will be dropped for the 2020 Games.

With the aim of refreshing and modernising the Olympic sports lineup, the IOC will also decide later this year which sport to bring in as a replacement.

The last sports axed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games.

Baseball and softball have now combined forces and are among seven sports competing for inclusion in 2020, along with karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.

The newest sports on the Olympic program are golf and rugby, approved by the IOC in 2009 for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Modern pentathlon features fencing, swimming, horse riding, running and shooting and is meant to simulate the skills of a cavalry officer. It was invented for the Olympics by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern games.

Modern pentathlon has been in the Olympics since the 1912 Games in Stockholm - where the fifth-place finisher was American George S Patton, who later gained fame as the World War II general.

The knock on modern pentathlon has been that it is outdated, lacks global popularity and has only a small base of top competitors.

The sport's governing body, the UIPM, has been taking steps to increase appeal and president Klaus Schormann has been lobbying hard.

"We are looking to the young generations to focus on youth. We are focusing and following exactly the opinion and the philosophy of the IOC. We are developing things from the ground up and not from the top," Schormann told The Associated Press.

IOC President Jacques Rogge and the 15-member executive board will review a report from the IOC program commission, which assessed all 26 sports on the program at the London Olympics.

Among the IOC board members is Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president and a vice president of the UIPM.

The board includes as many as six potential candidates to succeed Rogge when he steps down as president in September, meaning they may have long-term personal interests at play.

"It will be an interesting discussion," IOC vice president and board member Thomas Bach, who has not seen the report and would not address specific sports, told the AP.

"All sports were successful in London. I'm sure there will be a great dose of emotional discussion.

"The art of putting the program together means you have to find the right balance between tradition and progress. Different sports have different arguments to put forward."