The sport has traditionally involved five events, the others being swimming, show jumping and fencing.
However, from January 2009, competitions will finish with a combined shooting and running event, similar to that found in biathlon, which is held in the Winter Olympics.
The change, approved by the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) at its congress in Guatemala, will undoubtedly provoke controversy among some of the sport’s athletes and coaches.
While the number of days over which the Olympic competition is contested has been changed over the years, the five events at the heart of Modern Pentathlon have remained intact since its inception in 1912.
The Modern Pentathlon was invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics.
As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run.
The event was first held at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, and was won by Swedish athlete Gosta Lillehook.
In spite of the event’s strong pedigree in the Olympics, and its status as the only event created specifically for the modern Games, its lack of widespread popularity outside of Eastern Europe has led to calls for its removal from the Olympic Games in recent years.
It narrowly survived being voted out of London 2012 by the International Olympic Committee at its Session in Singapore in July 2005 and has been seeking ways since to modernise the sport.
The London 2012 Games will see the first revamped Olympic event.