Don’t you think that gaming, eSports or electronic sports should already be an Olympic discipline? After all, their popularity has dramatically increased over the past years and there are a lot of people who think that eSports could be a true Olympic medal sport.
Whereas arguments like attracting a new, young audience (think millennials) speak for eSports at the Olympics, there are still many open questions too. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) for example does not like the idea of having violent games being added to the Olympics, but would prefer to see current sports transformed into virtual games. This—and the fact that the Covid pandemic has triggered the exploration of new ideas—is probably why the Committee has already taken the first steps in order to adapt to the eSports trend.
In 2021, an important milestone has been reached: prior to the Olympic Games in Tokyo the first-ever “Olympic Virtual Series” take place and feature five sports simulation games such as World Rowing and World Sailing. The digital games have been designed for mass participation and aim to attract virtual sports and gaming enthusiasts in order to reach new Olympic audiences.
Another major step towards mainstream acceptance is that eSports is going to be a medal-winning discipline in the Asian Games in 2022 in China. eSports and Breakdancing were included in the program for the games in Hangzhou. The organizers hope that eSports will add a lot of value to the Asian Games due to its tremendous popularity especially in Asia.
The IOC also hopes to expand the Virtual Series even further in the future. Over the next few years, increasing the relevance of the Olympic Games will be critical. Attracting new audiences plays a major role, and eSports is a good possibility to reach them. So, hopefully we’ll see eSports as an Olympic discipline in the Summer Games in France 2024... Let’s keep our fingers crossed!