The spectacle of the Asian Games rolled across billions of media devices last week. And in the midst of it: competitive video gaming. Or e-sports, as it’s called, said to be worth nearly $1 billion. At the next Asian Games, in 2022, E-sports will likely be elevated to a medal event. So can e-athletes be added to the Olympic roster, as well.
At least it’s under consideration, according to The New York Times and other outlets.
New York Times: Boosters Say Yes
The International Olympic Committee met to discuss the atter in Lausanne in July. The questions were whether e-sports could be recognized as a sport, and whether they “could align with the Olympic values, rules and regulations”, according to The Times:
Despite the genre’s growing profile, even top players remain dogged by skepticism over whether they are real athletes. Mr. Assarasakorn of the Thai e-sports federation said a common problem is that casual video gamers are confused with “e-athletes,” some of whom have training regimens that include running and muscle-strengthening exercises. He added that physical training was linked with success in e-sports, and that playing video games had a physical dimension.
Attention was also drawn to last week’s killing of two competitors by a gamer at a video game event in Jacksonville, making it awkward because many games played by “e-athletes” revolve around violence.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said in April that “killer games” or ones that promote “violence or any kind of discrimination” would never be suitable for Olympic competition. “They would be contrary to our values and our principles,” he said.
For Bach, who, BBC reminds us, won an Olympic gold medal in fencing, esports need to be less violent before being included.
“Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this,” he said.
Fortune: “We have to look at it,” says IOC
The term “e-sports” covers video games played across a variety of digital platforms in competitive settings, including stadiums. A report by Amsterdam-based firm Newzoo says Global revenues for the industry were expected to reach $906 million this year, up more than 38 percent over 2017.
While e-sports won’t be part of Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Games, they could be included in the 2024 Olympics, reports Fortune. Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic Committee, floats the idea in Fortune:
We have to look at it because we can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics. The youth, yes they are interested in esport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.
Reuters: Never say never
“Asian Games under our belt, we’re so looking forward to what we are going to do in the next year or so,” president of Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) Kenneth Fok told reporters, including Reuters:
“There needs to be a give-and-take between the two worlds since no one side will easily convince the other to completely change their concepts and ideals….I never know where we’ll be in four years’ time. […]Four years is a long time in the world of technology. All we do is we work hard together and take one step at a time.”