More than 150 representatives from the gaming community attended the discussion Image: Twitter
With gaming (eSports) already confirmed as an official medal sport in the Asian Games 2022 to be held in China, the focus has shifted to the next big thing — the Olympic Games. The idea of eSports being included as an official Olympic sport in the 2024 rendition in Paris has been floated time and again, and seems like the proposition is far from just a fleeting thought despite many challenges.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) hosted an Esports Forum at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, over the weekend where the matter held centre stage. More than 150 representatives, including pro gamers from different countries, attended the event.
According to the official Olympic website, "The Forum began a dialogue to build joint understanding and set a platform for future engagement between the eSports and gaming industries and the Olympic Movement. The joint IOC-GAISF organisation of the Esports Forum reflects the increasing collaboration between various stakeholders of the Olympic Movement and the esports and gaming community."
Do note, the function of the forum was not to take a definitive decision on the inclusion of eSports in the Olympics, but to discuss the finer points to pave the way for an eventual inclusion. There will be further meetings on the agenda planned throughout the year before the issue finally comes out for a vote at the Olympic Summit in December 2018.
"There was a consensus that future collaboration will be based on ensuring that any activity supports and promotes the Olympic values and while the goal was not to develop a pathway towards the inclusion of eSports on the Olympic programme, we have a strong plan for ongoing dialogue and engagement, and are in a strong position to coordinate and support the wider engagement of the Olympic Movement with eSport," Kit McConnell, IOC sports director, said in a statement.
There were several positive takeaways from the forum, including some encouraging hints that by the time the list of official events for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris begins to get drawn up in 2019, eSports can make a strong case for its inclusion. The official list will only get announced after the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo conclude.
But the realisation of the eSports in the Olympic dream still faces many challenges, the biggest of which is the absence of a unified organisation which represents eSports globally and can align with the Olympic values, rules and regulations. Expect the issue to be addressed and hopefully solved in future meetings and discussions. In short, its no longer an 'if' but a 'when'.
Gaming will also feature in this year's Asian Games in Indonesia as a demonstration sport.