Television’s Best Reality Show Becoming An Olympic Sport?

A reality show that has brought on competitors from all over the world might be turned into a fully recognized sport at the Olympics.

By Dan Lawrence | Published

tokyo olympics

With Los Angeles hosting the Summer Olympics in 2028, it would make sense to add a little bit of film culture to the landmark sporting event. To that effect, it appears that one of television’s best reality shows is being considered for a new Olympic sport. As per The Hollywood ReporterNinja Warrior could be making its Olympic bow in 2028.

Ninja Warrior was originally created by the Japanese Television network TBS, and see’s reality tv show contestants take on a grueling obstacle course against the clock. TBS first aired the show in 1997 and it has since become a smash-hit globally, being made available to view in a whopping 160 countries with 20 countries producing their own version of the show, the United States included (American Ninja Warrior is produced by NBC). Ninja Warrior is being considered as a replacement for the equestrian segment of the Olympic event known as the Modern Pentathlon.

The Modern Pentathlon currently comprises pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding, and running. The discipline was first introduced at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm by Baron de Coubertin. The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (or UIPM for short), is running a test event for Ninja Warrior on June 27 and 28 in Ankara, Turkey. The event is officially dubbed as Obstacle Discipline and follows a decision made by the UIPM in May to trial Obstacle Discipline as one of two potential replacements for the horse riding discipline of the Modern Pentathalon. 

The Obstacle course being used in the test event is being provided by the TBS network, meaning that athletes will be competing on a true-to-life Ninja Warrior circuit. The obstacles being included in the test event will be familiar to fans of the show and are as follows: Rope Swing, A-Frame, Beater, Over-Under-Through, Wheels, Wall Flip, Rings, Balance Beams, and the Tsunami Wall. The UIPM believes that introducing the new discipline will enable the Modern Pentathlon to reduce its costs and increase its television and marketing potential.

Ninja Warrior is more than a marketable commodity and makes perfect sense to be included at the Olympic level. It is of course an extremely physical sport and there is some overlap with one of the newer Olympic competitions; Sport Climbing, which made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games. It is even more apt that Ninja Warrior should be considered to make its debut in 2028, the year that Los Angeles is set to host the Summer Olympics. NBC is currently airing the 14th season of American Ninja Warrior, with the previous 13th season pulling in millions of viewers. 

Considering that the Modern Pentathlon doesn’t have quite the same drama as the 100m event, after all, Usain Bolt is a global superstar and the same can’t be said for Modern Pentathletes. By introducing a globally renowned reality TV show format like Ninja Warrior to the event, the chance to increase more eyes on the Modern Pentathlon when the summer of 2028 comes around is almost certain.