The Olympics is a big deal for any sport. It means exposure, funding, the chance to win against the odds and the glory of being recognised as the best in the world. Now, that Olympic spirit could be coming to esports.
Last month, data from analytics firm Neilsen suggested that just 28 per cent of esports fans believe the esports should be an Olympic sport. And it goes without saying that the crossover between real world sports and esports often causes derision from those not wanting to be included with other traditional sports and those who believe the is nothing athletic about esports. The Internation Olympic Committee though apparently has other ideas.
A statement from the recent IOC summit meeting discussed the notion of esports being included and didn’t write it off at all. Recognising the rise of esports, the IOC said that 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."
So there is room for them to be included, however, there are still caveats that the esports world does have potential problems with. "In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of "eSports" must not infringe on the Olympic values," the statement added. "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 hasn’t had a great time when it comes to player doping and regulation of drug cheats. Although it is very good at spotting and disqualifying players who step out of boundaries given that teams, brands and money is normally at stake.
For those of you wondering, there are three Olympic core values, which are friendship, respect and excellence, along with four Paralympic values – Determination, inspiration, courage and equality. If there is a game or a potential game that could fill those Olympic values then we could see esports join up in an Olympic opening ceremony. However, it’s unlikely that the worlds biggest esports right now, especially those featuring guns and shooting people, would fit exactly into that mould.
However the US State Department has already made moves to consider League of Legends players as athletes, and the 2022 Asain Games in China will feature esports as well. So there is a precedent being set.
It’s a far cry from Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, isn’t it?