Once again, esports’ inclusion into the Olympics are on the table
At this point it’s hardly news that many esports experts and stakeholders would love to see video games at the Olympics, and it’s equally true that a few IOC – International Olympic Committee – members see the benefits of drawing in younger viewers and fans as well, but on the whole, too many higher-ups have said no. Most notably, a German Olympic Exec rather embarrassed himself by claiming that ‘esports does not exist’ – obviously, there is a billion-dollar industry disagreeing with him, but statement aside, attempts to get esports into the Olympics have failed time and time again.
Now there are discussion once again, this time led by Intel. Specifically, Intel UK’s head of gaming and esports confirmed that his company has contacted the IOC about it, and that discussions are happening despite their concerns that many esports depict too much violence for the Olympics.
As a matter of fact, esports have already been part of Olympics events, though not the ‘main’ Summer and Winter games, and not as medal disciplines. At the 2019 Pyeongchang Winter Games – an Olympic event that’s part of the Asian Games and notably sponsored by Intel – esports made an appearance as an exhibition sport. This means that although a competition took place and winners were recognized, their medals did not count towards the overall medal count of their countries.
In 2017, the IOC acknowledged that esports could be considered a sporting activity, but pointed out that it cannot violate the Olympic values, one of which is a strict no-violence rule, as it’s all about fair competition, and not brutality.
At the moment, nothing is confirmed in these talks between Intel and the IOC other than that there are, in fact, talks between Intel and the IOC. In order for esports to have any hopes at all of being included, they need to take certain steps of course – for one, there are at the moment zero changes of violent games like CS:GO or even Fortnite being included, as both show gun violence. The same goes for fighting games like Tekken or SoulCalibur, but despite that, there are plenty of non-violent games to pick from.
Depending on the definition, titles like Dota 2 and League of Legends aren’t violent, and there are entire genres like puzzle games (think Tetris!) or racers that don’t display any violence at all, or at least only a negligible amount. In other words, there is hope yet – while we may not necessarily see our favourite games at the Olympic games, we may absolutely see SOME esports there in the next few years… don’t hold your breath for the Tokyo Olympics though, as the soonest possible time they could join would be the 2024 Paris Olympics, and even that might be slightly optimistic… but hey, if video game fans are one thing, it’s patient – we waited for Duke Nukem Forever for 15 years, and for Diablo 3 for 11 years!