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Little Hope of Esports in Olympics After IOC Says “Premature” to Talk of it as Medal Event

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Photo: Gabriel Gagne via Wikimedia Commons

By Duncan Mackay |

Any hopes that esports had of becoming an Olympic sport in the near future appear to have been dashed after senior International Olympic Committee officials, led by President Thomas Bach, claimed talk of it becoming a medal event is “premature.”

The topic was among a number of key issues discussed during the 7th Olympic Summit – a meeting of the leading figures in world sport – in Lausanne today.

“Recognizing the fact that the sports movement is in competition with the esports/egames industry for the leisure time of young people, the Summit agreed that the Olympic Movement should not ignore its growth, particularly because of its popularity among young generations around the world,” the IOC said in a communique published following the meeting.

“It was agreed that competitive gaming entails physical activity which can be compared to that required in more traditional sports.

“This, on the other hand, cannot necessarily be said to apply to leisure electronic gaming.

“For this reason, the use of the term sport with regard to esports/egames needs further dialogue and study.

“It was agreed that the Olympic Movement should continue to engage with this community, whilst at the same time acknowledging that uncertainties remain.”

The momentum esports appeared to be making towards Olympic inclusion seemed to have been stalled by the premature death in October of Patrick Baumann, the President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the IOC member who appeared most enthusiastic about promoting them.

Another blow to esports has been the recent sidelining of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia, who is another keen supporter.

He was behind their inclusion as a full medal sport on the program at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat and as a demonstration event at this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

Among the problems with esports identified by the Olympic Summit was that some games are violent and, therefore, “are not compatible with the Olympic values and therefore cooperation with them is excluded.”

They also pointed to the fact that the industry is evolving rapidly with the changing popularity of specific games and the rapid development towards augmented reality and virtual reality, the fragmented nature of the industry and the fact that it is commercially driven.

“For all these reasons, a discussion about the inclusion of esports/egames as a medal event on the Olympic program is premature,” the communique said.

“The Summit advises major sports events organizers within the Olympic Movement to respect this principle for their own competitions.

“A number of these uncertainties do not apply to esports simulation games.

“Because of this, accelerated cooperation with regard to these kinds of esports is encouraged by the Summit.

“The Summit encourages the IFs (International Federations) to explore the potential benefits and applications of the electronic and virtual versions of their sports.”

The IOC urged the International Federations to ensure “they gain or retain appropriate control over the electronic/virtual versions of their sports” and restrict “their engagement to activation in the e-versions and virtual forms of their traditional sports.”

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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