Monday 19th November 2018


IOC Hosted First Esports Forum as Gaming’s Olympic Inclusion Edges Closer

IOC Hosted First Esports Forum as Gaming’s Olympic Inclusion Edges Closer

IOC Hosted First Esports Forum as Gaming’s Olympic Inclusion Edges Closer
Rick Fox speaks at the Esports Forum held in the Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland (Credit: IOC | Greg Martin)

The International Olympic Committee hosted its first Esports Forum at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland last weekend “to build joint understanding and set a platform for future engagement between the esports and gaming industries and the Olympic Movement.”

While the IOC explicitly stated that “the consideration of whether esports could be included on the Olympic program was not an immediate goal of the Esports Forum,” this was undoubtedly an exploratory step in that direction.

At the Olympic Summit in 2017, the committee recognized that 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.”

Next month’s Asian Games will feature esports as a sanctioned event. At SportTechie’s State of the Industry panel last February, Skillz founder and CEO Andrew Paradise relayed an industry expectation that esports could be part of the Olympics by 2024.

The weekend IOC event was co-hosted by the Global Association of International Sports Federations, and its president Patrick Baumann, who is also an IOC member, said: “On behalf of GAISF and the IOC, I would like to thank all the participants at today’s forum. One thing in particular was clear from these fascinating discussions—we are united by passion for our sports and a shared love of competition. That’s a positive starting point for further discussions about possible future cooperation between the Olympic and esports communities.”

IOC president Thomas Bach speaks with Houston Outlaws Overwatch player Jake Lyon (Credit: IOC | Greg Martin)

SportTechie Takeaway

Esports’ inclusion in the Olympic Games is starting to feel inevitable. The sight of IOC president Thomas Bach playing videogames was jarring for those accustomed to the stodgy old Olympic Movement. Among the other esports insiders in attendance was former NBA player and EchoFox founder Rick Fox, who moderated a panel.

Last fall’s summit spelled out a few of the criteria that need to be met before the Olympics formally adopts esports. While acknowledging esports’ appeal in helping the Olympics reach a younger demographic, the summit concluded that esports “must not infringe on the Olympic values.”

The one major hurdle—and the reason why the GAISF’s attendance is notable—is that esports doesn’t have a global governing body. The Olympics doesn’t like disparate entities and wants one singular voice ensuring compliance with rules and regulations. That step could be tricky to manage given how many different videogames fall under the esports umbrella, so creating a uniform federation that appeases all of esports will not be easy. But if esports wants Olympic recognition, surely some compromise can be reached.

Related

  • Alibaba Showcases Vision For Olympics In Digital Age

  • Intel Brings Esports To PyeongChang Ahead Of Olympics Games

  • What Would Esports Inclusion In The Olympics Look Like?

  • Olympics Stakeholders, NCAA Continue Discussions Surrounding Esports

  • Esports Execs Discuss Barriers, Advantages To Olympic Inclusion

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