The UIPM has received numerous correspondences protesting the decision to host its Congress online only ©ITG

The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) has received letters of complaint from National Federations surrounding its decision to host its upcoming Congress online rather than in a hybrid format.

The Congress is scheduled to take place on November 12 and 13 online after it was decided that there were several factors preventing UIPM Member Federations from being able to travel to the originally planned host city of Antigua in Guatemala.

It claimed that members had highlighted the cost of travel while also saying that other nations are subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

As a result, the body opted that an online livestreamed meeting "would be the best way to underpin the democracy of UIPM Congress."

This has led to discontent from several National Federations (NFs) over a lack of transparency as modern pentathlon continues to be embroiled in a civil war over the possible replacement of riding with obstacle racing as the sport's fifth discipline.

The Australian, British, Czech, Danish, Irish, and Mauritian NFs all sent correspondences to the UIPM protesting the decision for an online meeting.

They felt that it would jeopardise the democratic participation at the UIPM Congress and affect the right to intervene and express opinions due to the physical distance.

Modern Pentathlon Australia President Maki Takken claimed that there is no provision in the UIPM statutes for the Congress to be held online and "feared for the integrity of UIPM's ongoing organisation and governance" if it went ahead.

He quoted from the body's regulations that a General Assembly is not legally constituted unless half of the members entitled to vote are present and any amendments of the statutes may only be made by a two-thirds majority vote of members present.

However, the UIPM insisted that an in-person only or hybrid meeting would create a situation in which some NFs could attend in person while others could not for reasons beyond their control.

Modern pentathlon has been divided over the decision to replace riding and the UIPM's handling of the change ©UIPM
Modern pentathlon has been divided over the decision to replace riding and the UIPM's handling of the change ©UIPM

The protesting Federations are anticipating that members will be asked to vote on a change to the UIPM statutes.

Modern Pentathlon Great Britain has offered to host an in-person Congress in the country and has also said that it will contribute towards meeting costs.

A vote is set to take place at the Congress on whether to install obstacle as modern pentathlon's fifth discipline following four test events that have examined its suitability in the sport.

UIPM President Klaus Schormann has claimed that the change could revolutionise the Olympics.

The rules of obstacle have currently not been included in proposals submitted by the UIPM Executive Board to the Congress which has been further cause for concern.

"The adoption of the competition rules and their modification is the responsibility of the UIPM General Assembly," read a letter to the UIPM from the Czech Modern Pentathlon Association Executive Board.

"The absence of competition rules and their replacement by implementing 'guidelines' is unthinkable in any other sport."

UIPM Secretary General Shiny Fang responded saying that the body intends to take into account the experiences of obstacles' first competition year before implementing a final set of rules.

There are fears within the international modern pentathlon community that the UIPM's pathway to include obstacle will include a merger which means that the UIPM will be able to count obstacle athletes to inflate its athlete numbers to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

It is thought by some that this will lead to the current generation of athletes to disappear, and that obstacle will subsume the UIPM.

UIPM President Klaus Schormann claims that obstacle's inclusion in modern pentathlon could revolutionise the Olympic Games ©Getty Images
UIPM President Klaus Schormann claims that obstacle's inclusion in modern pentathlon could revolutionise the Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Further concerns relating to the UIPM's governance have arisen regarding Schormann.

Jörg Krieger, chair of the international research network Sport and Society, has alleged that the official demanded that certain NFs back his leadership.

"Another insight shared by two interviewees further highlights how leading UIPM officials act behind the scenes to pressure voters," Krieger wrote in his 2022 book Athletes Pressing Charges: Fighting for the Future of Modern Pentathlon.

"Two individuals reported independently from each other that following the UIPM President's re-election at the Congress [last year], Schormann sent an email to a member federation that had allegedly voted against him, demanding that this NF's leaders should back his leadership and their leadership in order.

"Such behaviour demonstrates that the UIPM President is prepared to reprimand those who do not support him, attempting to break down potential resistance despite the fact that it is legitimate to demonstrate discontent via voting choices."

Regardless of the concerns, the UIPM stands by its decision for an online Congress which is hoped to be fully inclusive.

The next elective Congress is set to take place in 2024 after the Olympic Games in Paris, where modern pentathlon is included with riding.

Modern pentathlon has been left off the initial programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, with the IOC awaiting a formal proposal on the sport's format before taking a final decision.