The discussion around bringing esports into the Olympics has been going on for a while now, but recent comments from International Olympics Committee chief Thomas Bach have poured cold water on the aspirations.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Bach – an Olympic gold medal fencer in his day – said: “We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination… So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.”
The IOC held a forum discussing esports at its headquarters in July, and sentiment leading up to the informal chat seemed positive. The comments from Bach, however, show there’s plenty of work still to be done to welcome esports into the Olympics.
Bach commented on the fact actual violence is involved in some Olympic sports, like boxing, saying: “Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”
Punching someone in the head in real life: civilised. Shooting a fake person with no risk of brain injury: unacceptable. Just so we’re clear on that.
The comments likely won’t leave many people dismayed, with a Nielsen survey last year showing only 28 per cent of esports fans polled thought it should be introduced to the Olympics. And it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to those who figured violent content would be an issue for the IOC, as we pointed out.
So it’s not a ‘no, never’, but it’s going to need some serious shifts – either in the content of games or of attitudes at the highest level in the IOC – before we’re likely to see Daigo-like plays broadcast to billions around the world.