The Olympic Games regularly add new events, but officials aren’t quite ready to embrace eSports.
This weekend, the International Olympic Committee met for the 7th Olympic Summit, where competitive video gaming was among the topics of discussion. The verdict? It’s still “premature” to discuss including them in the Olympic games.
That’s bound to be disappointing to supporters, who had hoped for a breakthrough in the 2024 Paris games. Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic committee, is a proponent of bringing video games to the Olympics.
Despite initial opposition to eSports, Olympic organizers didn’t entirely shut the door on the idea.
The IOC “agreed that the Olympic Movement should continue to engage with [the eSports] community.” It also said some titles were “not compatible” with the Olympic values, presumably referring to action and shooter games. Explaining, the IOC drew a contrast between how the eSports “industry is commercially driven” as opposed to the “values-based” aim of other sports, a claim that many might find fault with.
Still, the IOC did say it planned to invite stakeholders in the eSports industry to a liaison group, where they would “explore jointly collaborative projects”.
eSports might seem a strange fit in the Olympics, but many of the Olympics most popular events were similarly greeted with skepticism. Snowboarding wasn’t added until 1998. And as the X Games grew in popularity, the Olympics added Big Air aerials and slopestyle skiing.
Five new sports will debut in 2020, some of which, like skateboarding, are designed to appeal to younger demographics. That audience will likely be what ultimately convinces the IOC to add eSports to the games at some point. Viewership for events, both online and on TV, has regularly outpaced that of major traditional sports tournaments.
The IOC also has some time to change its mind. No final decisions about the competition in the Paris Olympics will be made until 2020, after Tokyo’s time with the Games is done.