You know the future of esports is bright when the IOC (International Olympic Committee) starts to pay attention. The upcoming Esports Forum taking place on July 21 will be co-hosted with the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The forum will be an open discussion about esports at the Olympics with IOC’s President Thomas Bach, top professional esports athletes, as well as other important stakeholders.
According to an interview with The Esports Observer, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell wants to make it absolutely clear that the point of the forum is not to establish a specific timeline for when we can see esports included as an official Olympic sport. Rather, “It’s more about the engagement of the two communities.”
Could we really see esports at the Olympics in Paris in 2024? The IOC won’t be finalizing the program of these games until September 2019 at its annual session.
“For esports to be included in the Olympic program, first of all, we would have to deal with a single, recognized federation or body that represented the whole of the esports community, the same way we deal with FIFA for football, the IAAF for athletics, and so on,” according to McConnell.
Other participants include Kenneth Fok, the president of both the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) and VP of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong. Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent, Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Morhaime, ESL CEO Ralf Reichert, Twitch Head of Esports Justin Dellario, and the VP of Intel John Bonini are also invited. Finally, a representative from Fortnite maker Epic Games plans to speak on a panel.
This is huge and could lead to serious steps in the right direction to see esports possibly designated as an Olympic sport. Imagine watching your favorite pros compete on the world’s biggest stage. It would also further show the world that esports is way more than people playing video games – it’s serious business.
Back at its 2017 Summit, IOC did publicly agree that esports should very well be considered a legitimate athletic sport. Before the past Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, both the IOC and ESL were key in supporting a StarCraft II tournament – The Intel Extreme Masters Pyeongchang. This tournament took place in a venue near the games.
I’m sure many are going to pay close attention to this forum and what comes out of it. Although as was stated earlier, we may not see an exact date of when esports could become a reality at the Olympics, we are 100% on the right path to that day coming sooner rather than later. It would come as a huge surprise and shock if in 2019 it’s decided that esports will have a home at the Paris 2024 games. We will have to wait and see the outcome of the forums and panels.
It’s also important to note that the major concern of esports at the Olympics is the violence that occurs in some of the most popular competitive games. IOC President Bach has told the media that the Olympics will not be a place to promote violence in video games. Games that are deemed too violent will not be included. He will further make those values known at the upcoming forum.
Let us know what your thoughts are on esports at the Olympics!