A gold medal for Ninja Warrior skills? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
Japanese TV network TBS, creator of the original Ninja Warrior reality competition format, revealed Monday that the show’s signature obstacle course will be tested for possible inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.
The Ninja Warrior course is under consideration to be added as the new fifth discipline of the Modern Pentathlon, a regular medal sport at the Summer Olympics. Modern Pentathlon previously has consisted of five disciplines: fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, laser pistol shooting and running. But the organizers of the sport, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), announced in May that an obstacle course would be tested as a potential replacement for the riding discipline after the 2024 Paris Olympics.
According to the UIPM, two types of obstacle sports will be considered and tested, one of which is Ninja Competitions, the sport invented and made popular worldwide by the Ninja Warrior TV show and its many localized remakes. The first test competition will be held in Ankara, Turkey in late June, immediately after the UIPM 2022 Pentathlon World Cup Final in Ankara. TBS is collaborating with the test organizers by providing a Ninja Warrior obstacle course for use as a demonstration of the event Turkey. The course they are putting forward is the same one currently used to film local versions of the Ninja Warrior in France, Poland and other European countries. TBS says the obstacles featured will include The Wall Flip, Parallel Pipes, Wind Chimes and Tire Swing. Olympic Pentathletes and Ninja Warrior champions from around the world will practice on June 27 to compete for the first time as Olympic hopefuls on June 28.
“UIPM has undertaken a comprehensive and transparent process to transform Modern Pentathlon into one of the most popular, accessible and exciting sports on the Olympic program,” said UIPM president, Dr. Klaus Schormann. “The upcoming first Obstacle Discipline Test Event in Ankara will be an important step and we look forward to watching pentathletes and obstacle athletes test themselves on the obstacles provided in collaboration with TBS and the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles.”
Ninja Warrior, known as SASUKE in Japan, first aired in Japan on TBS in 1997. After it became a smash local hit, the format began to sell globally — and today it can be seen in 160 countries, with local versions produced in over 20 nations.
Added Taro Muraguchi, program producer at TBS: “I am very excited to hear that the program that began in 1997 on TBS has become popular around the world and may now expand its reach even further. I am really looking forward to seeing Ninja Warrior on the Olympic stage as a Modern Pentathlon event.”