The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirms a forum is happening next month, where they will consider esports in the Olympics. This was created in partnership with the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF). The GAISF’s role is to create a “united voice of sport in support of the Olympic ideals and of the Olympic movement and promote sport at every level”.
This exploratory forum will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland at the headquarters of the IOC. Also, many leaders from different levels of esports will be present. Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent, Blizzard founder Mike Morhaime, Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer, and Twitch head of esports Justin Dellario will all attend.
GAISF President Patrick Baumann says:
We understand that sport never stands still and the phenomenal growth of esports and gaming is part of its continuing evolution. The Esports Forum provides an important and extremely valuable opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of esports, their impact and likely future development, so that we can jointly consider the ways in which we may collaborate to the mutual benefit of all of sport in the years ahead.
Forum talking points will be Twitch streaming, gender equality, a day in the life of an elite player, media and investment, and more.
Why should the Olympics consider esports?
This forum comes right after the Olympic Summit last October. At the Olympic Summit, the IOC said it would consider esports as a sport. However, esports would have to adhere to all Olympic values. The IOC will consider esports due to its ability to reach young people. The Olympic Committee looks to refresh its aging viewership and wishes to become relevant to a new generation. The Olympics have been trying to appeal to a younger audience for some time now. For example, skateboarding and surfing will be additions to the Olympics for the first time ever.
The IOC gave a statement on possibly having esports as an event:
Competitive “eSports” could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports. But any future inclusion in the Games would require official recognition of it as an Olympic sport and would also need a governing organization that would guarantee compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement.
Testing esports on the big stage
A big test for esports at an international athletic competition is the Asian Games, being held in Jakarta and Palembang. The Asian Games introduces esports for the first time, although they are only demonstration sports. However, I do believe that this can show the IOC how esports will run at a higher level. At the 2020 Asian Games, esports will be an event that players can actually win medals in.
Esports has become incredibly popular across the world. There are less and less people watching the Olympics than ever before. This may the best time to introduce gaming into the Olympic scene. Esports could help increase viewership and push in a new fanbase at the same time. This would also help pro gaming become more legitimate in the eyes of many, who do not take esports as seriously as it should be.
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