(Reuters) - USA Nordic Sport said on Friday it was highly disappointed with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision not to include the women's Nordic combined in the 2026 Games programme at Milan and Cortina.
The IOC said women's Nordic combined, where athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping, lacks universality and that the men's Olympic spot was also at risk.
It remains the only Winter Olympic discipline in which women cannot compete, despite having world championships and a World Cup circuit.
"I'm disappointed by the IOC's decision, specifically when they are talking about gender equality at the Olympics," women's Nordic combined head coach Tomas Matura said in a statement.
The IOC added a women's ski jumping large hill event to the programme and said it would be the most gender-balanced Winter Games so far, with 47% female participation.
It is expected to revisit the decision on Nordic combined prior to the 2030, after warning that the men's competition also faces major challenges.
USA Nordic athlete Annika Malacinski called it "the worst, most unbearable news that anyone could get".
"While in the same breath stating that this will be the most gender-balanced Olympic Winter Games to date while not adding Women's Nordic Combined, is truly disappointing," she said in a statement.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Christian Radnedge)