IOC To Study Creating Olympic Esports Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had revealed that it will be exploring the possibility of creating an Olympic Esports Games during the 141st IOC Session held in Mumbai, India. The session touched on many initiatives that would be taken to promote esports as an Olympic sport in the coming years. Attended by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the IOC session was where Thomas Bach, IOC President, unfolded the plans that the newly created IOC Esports Commission were tasked to study the possible creation of an Olympic Esports Games.
In his speech, Bach pointed out that an estimated 500 million gamers were interested in esports and was one of the reasons that pushed the move to be undertaken by the committee. He also highlighted that many of the gamers were mostly under the age of 34 which is further proof of the youth’s interest in esports and its massive potential to be a part of the Olympics. Bach stated, “The younger generation has a completely new way of thinking. They are living digital lives right now. We must not ignore their thinking if we do not want to jeopardise our own future. We must empower them to guide us with their young mindset.”
Bach was also careful to stress on the importance of maintaining IOC’s values which he stated that was the red line that won’t be crossed by them. This was in regards to the possible esports titles that will be included in the Olympic Esports Games. He noted that the International Shooting Sport Federation Island which was created by Fortnite for this year’s Olympic Esports Series as an example of a publisher that have adapted the game in order to conform fully to the Olympic values.
What is the Olympic Esports Series?
The Olympic Esports Series (OES) is an event that is held inaugurally during June’s Olympic Esports Week which is an esports event run by the IOC. This year, the OES featured nine esports titles which mostly steered away from traditional esports titles. Instead, it focused on sports simulation with games like Virtual Taekwondo and Virtual Regatta among the nine that have been included.
In the session, the president of IOC was happy to announce that the OES was a resounding success and stated that it had more than 500,000 participants and hit around 6 million views. Most of these views were from viewers between the ages of 13 to 34. After a glowing report, Bach stated that while this was promising, it was only the start and that there is still an entire race to run ahead.
Esports Community Still Sceptical
While this announcement has been a great step forward for esports to be included in the Olympics, most of the esports community are still sceptical about the move. Many of the derision from the esports community was due to the fact that the many of the games chosen for the Olympic Esports Series were not esports titles at all. They also pointed out the fact that the special Fortnite mode, that Bach mentioned, was added to the Olympic Esports Series lineup only after two months of the original lineup being announced.
Furthermore, details regarding the Olympic Esports Games and what kind of titles and how games could be formatted for it, were not revealed. However, it is important to note that the creation of an Olympic Esports Games is a tremendous step forward to include esports in the Olympics, especially for the IOC, given that it is now next on their agenda after the success of the Olympic Esports Series and the Olympic Virtual Series.
Other Esports Organizations React
Even though the move is still be view from a careful eye by many from the esports community, the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) reacted in a more positive way. According to the AESF, following IOC’s announcement, even existing esports titles that were used in the recent 2022 Asian Games were used after the respective publishers adapted them to fit the guidelines.
It stated that, “AESF has collaborated with publishers on the adaptation of popular mobile shooting games, such as PUBG Mobile, which was renamed as ‘Peace Elite Asian Games Version,’ as well as MOBA games, such as Arena of Valor, which was renamed as ‘Arena of Valor Asian Games Version,’ during the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. Both of the adaptations have been made to comply with Olympic values.”
Other notable and traditional esports titles like Dota 2 and League of Legends have already beep added by the Asian Games. League of Legends was first introduced to the Asian Games in 2018 as a demonstration sport and then officially added, along with Dota 2, as medal sports in 2022. It should also be noted that South Korea’s League of Legend team, which featured Lee Sang-hyeok aka ‘Faker,’ received military exemption after winning gold in the 2022 event.