Oswald said a "more creative approach" is needed to establish the sports program following the IOC's handling of wrestling's Olympic status.
"If you streamline some sports and keep only their events which are really universal, you could go further," Oswald said at a news conference to detail his campaign platform in the six-man race to succeed Jacques Rogge. "This space can go to different sports so that we can really create fresh blood within the program."
Oswald said he is "pretty convinced" that wrestling will return to the Olympics after being eliminated in February from the core list for the 2020 Games in a process that was designed to bring in a new sport to fulfill the 28-sport limit.
Wrestling, squash and a joint baseball-softball bid made the IOC shortlist last week for inclusion as an additional sport in 2020. A final decision will be made at the IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, two days before the Sept. 10 presidential election.
If wrestling wins the vote, no new sport will be brought in.
"I was very surprised that was wrestling was eliminated," Oswald said. "I think there were other ways to warn them. At the end, the wish was to have a new sport.
Oswald is competing against IOC Vice Presidents Thomas Bach of Germany and Ng Ser Miang of Singapore, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, C.K. Wu of Taiwan and Sergei Bubka of Ukraine. Rogge steps down after completing a full 12-year mandate.
Oswald picked up on widespread dissatisfaction with the sports program review, which shut out youth-oriented sports such as wakeboarding and roller sports.
The IOC has imposed a cap of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes to help host cities control costs and prepare for the 16-day event.
"It's not necessary to stick to 28 sports," Oswald said. "Every sport can make a certain effort, then you could have more than 28. There are some events which are pretty similar in which the athletes can win."
Even in established sports, only "four or five nations" were likely to win medals in some events, the longtime rowing federation president said.
Oswald also spoke against a proposed "United World Championship" to be held every four years for Olympic and non-Olympic sports. The project was put forward by judo federation president Marius Vizer after his election last Friday as head of the umbrella body SportAccord.
"I don't think there is any city in the world which can accommodate such a games," said Oswald, who oversaw preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2012 London Games. "Everyone being a bit realistic realizes it is not possible."
Oswald also proposes simplifying the process of cities bidding to host an Olympics, which currently involves bid officials traveling to make presentations to sports conferences and regional Olympic meetings.
The 100-plus IOC members who will elect Rogge's successor could also be given more work and responsibility under Oswald's leadership.
"I think we should make better use of the members we have. I know many of them are willing to do more," he said.
Oswald said it was "very difficult to know" how his election prospects shaped up.
Still, his commitment to an IOC campaign has ruled him out of consideration for the presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which becomes vacant in November.
Oswald, with a background in sports law and as an arbitrator on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has been mentioned as a possible WADA candidate, along with IOC Vice President Craig Reedie of Britain and former IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch.
"The two things are not compatible. I had to make a choice," Oswald said. "WADA is no longer a consideration for me."
Oswald calls his platform "My 5 Rings" and says he will present it to IOC members in the next few weeks. All six candidates will speak to the members in Lausanne on July 4.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.