Esports in the Olympics

Esports is any form of competition that uses video games, and in most cases, it incorporates a multiplayer video game competition between professional gamers.   These video games range from real-time strategy (RTS) games to first-person shooter (FPS) games to multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games.  In the United States, Esports is a heavily growing industry which has almost passed the $1 billion revenue mark.  Due to increasing popularity, a discussion has begun surrounding whether video gaming could become an Olympic Sport.

This past Friday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) brought together more than 150 people from Esports and gaming industries, as well as various representatives from the National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, and Olympic athletes to discuss Esports.  The meeting took place at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, and there the group discussed the areas of commonality and potential collaboration which exist between current Olympic sports and Esports.  During that discussion, the topic of Esports coming an Olympic sport did arise.

A quote from the IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnell, sums it up well.  “There was a consensus that future collaborations will be based on ensuring that any activity supports and promotes the Olympic values’ and while the goal was not to develop a pathway towards the inclusion of Esports on the Olympic programme, we have a strong plan for ongoing dialogue and engagement.”

In the current environment, it is not all that likely that Esports will be integrated into the Olympics due to the fact that the industry lacks an organization to truly represent it at the global level.  Having no governing organization means is no way to align to Olympic values, rules, and regulations; however, that will soon change.

What’s next for Esports could really set the stage for the future possibility of it becoming an Olympic sport as the IOC and GAISF will form an Esports Liaison Group.  This group will help establish communication between stakeholders in the industry and the Olympic Movement and will also push potential collaborations.  In many ways, the Esports Liaison Group will fill the void of not having a global organization.  Furthermore, the group will present at the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires to push the Olympic notion forward.  More than that, Esports in the Olympics will be discussed at various other forums, including the Olympic Summit in December.  In the best case scenario, Esports could make it to the Summer Olympic games in Paris in 2024.  Planning for those Olympics begins in 2019 and the Co-President of the Paris Olympic Committee, Tony Estanguet, has already confirmed that gaming will be discussed as a potential sport by the IOC.

Even if Esports doesn’t quite qualify for the Olympics, it is a rapidly growing industry which has created a multitude of jobs.  Beyond the gamers themselves, law groups have created jobs in divisions which specialize in legal issues surrounding the Esports industry.  Additionally, some doctors have expanded their services to support Esports competitors.  With or without the Olympics, Esports is on the rise and has proven to successfully draw the interest of a younger generation.

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