A contentious 90-minute modern pentathlon format proposed for the Paris 2024 Olympics is being examined at a four-day test event in Budapest.
Action began in the Hungarian capital on Thursday (April 22) and is due to conclude today as the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) looks to run the rule over the new version of the sport.
A total of 36 male and 21 female athletes from 10 countries are taking part in the third and final test event at the University of Public Service in Budapest - the same venue used for last month’s UIPM World Cup competition.
The new format involves the equestrian leg lasting 20 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of fencing, 10 minutes of swimming and 15 minutes for the laser run - with breaks between events.
All disciplines are set to take place on the same field of play in Budapest, except for the fencing ranking round which was held on the opening day.
The UIPM claims there will be no more than a 120-metre walking distance separating the swimming, fencing bonus round, riding and laser run courses.
Different permutations are due to be on trial including using two semi-finals with 12 athletes or three with 18 competitors.
"In these days in Budapest we will have a further opportunity to see the new modern pentathlon format designed for Paris 2024 being tested in a competition environment," said Janusz Peciak, a 1976 Olympic champion and UIPM Executive Board member.
"It is wonderful to have almost 60 athletes from 10 nations taking part in this important test event.
"They will have the chance to experience this innovative new vision for modern pentathlon, and we are looking forward to hearing their feedback after the positive comments that came from previous test events in 2020."
Faster. Shorter. Connected. Compact. Easy to understand.— UIPM - World Pentathlon (@WorldPentathlon) April 23, 2021
That's the new #ModernPentathlon format, and it's being tested right now in Budapest 🇭🇺
Supported by the @iocmedia and it’s a cornerstone of our innovation pathway so we're working hard on this 💪https://t.co/meRgaHUinD pic.twitter.com/ssXo5BET5V
Peciak is a member of the task force which was appointed after the UIPM claimed the format received "positive" communication from the International Olympic Committee in December 2020.
The UIPM Executive Board approved the 90-minute version last October after test events were held in Budapest and Cairo in Egypt in September.
"We just had two successful Pentathlon World Cups in Sofia and we are now with a group of athletes in Budapest for the last event for the new modern pentathlon format designed for Paris 2024," said UIPM President Klaus Schormann.
"The Organising Committee in Hungary has prepared everything in a very efficient way and all participating nations have taken part in a technical meeting where they got instructions about how it will work, step by step and discipline by discipline.
"We are looking forward to a successful test and to monitoring the format together with coaches and officials to discuss if any modifications need to be made in future.
"It is very important that we listen to the athletes and find out what is their judgment about this test."
The UIPM hope the changes will boost the profile and popularity of the sport which was first introduced into the Olympic Games at Stockholm 1912.
But the 90-minute format is facing criticism from some competitors, with Russian Uliana Batashova, winner of gold and silver medals at the last two World Cups in Cairo, notably accusing UIPM of deciding to "kill our sport".
Last November Ukraine’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Pavlo Tymoshchenko spoke out on social media saying the changes will create "another wave of confusion" and make the sport "even more incomprehensible", although he accepted some changes were "needed".