IOC acknowledges ‘strong growth’ of eSports

The International Olympic Committee revealed that the “development of eSports” was one of four primary discussion points at the 6th Olympic Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland last week.

The Summit focused on topics “important to the future of the Olympic Movement.” eSports was a main agenda item along with the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, testing procedures for doping and progress toward the Charter of Athletes’ Rights.

IOC president Thomas Bach said in August that he is open to eSports being included in the Olympics, but several hurdles remain. Primary among them is the lack of industry regulations and the violence in most games that would go against the core Olympic values.

Bach was among 23 participants at the Summit who discussed the development of eSports, and outlined four discussion points moving forward:

  • “eSports” are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement.
  • 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.
  • In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of “eSports” must not infringe on the Olympic values.
  • A further requirement for recognition by the IOC must be the existence of an organisation guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement (anti-doping, betting, manipulation, etc.).

eSports will be included in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, and China also recognizes eSports as a legitimate form of competition. The next Olympics that could approve the inclusion of eSports would be the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“These discussions are going on. It will still take some time because this industry is now shaping itself,” Bach said in August. “It’s a successful industry, but it is not yet really established in an organizational way.”