No Olympic future for esports until ‘violence’ issue is resolved, IOC President Bach says

‘Video games are/make people violent’ is something that has been around for almost as long as video games have. Concerned parents, teachers, news sources and more absolutely love to make this argument, even though there has been no scientific link found between the two matters (if anything, studies suggest the opposite). This matter is unlikely to be resolved any time soon as there are always going to be people who oppose gaming.

That said, there is now another aspect to this discourse: The Olympic’s stance on violence. It’s pretty well-known that esports are angling to become part of the Olympic games, and so far all signs seem to be pointing in the right direction – in fact, this year’s Asian Games, currently taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia, featured several different esports as exhibition sports.


Now however, there seems to be a roadblock in the shape of a very definitive statement from the president of the International Olympic Committee. Thomas Bach, said that the Olympics wouldn’t consider “a game which is promoting violence or discrimination.” This is in line with the Olympics general attitude to fighting and violence, as the Olympic spirit is quite intolerant of such things.

It seems that Bach’s stance is a little more rigid though – “So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.” Bach himself is a gold-medallist, in fencing. He won the medal in 1976 and rebuked any comparison between the arguably non-peaceful sport of fencing and violent online games. “Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people,” he said. “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.”

That’s a very fine line he’s not crossing there – it’s also ignoring a very large part of esports, namely those that aren’t violent at all. Yes, first person shooters are violent, and other games like MOBAs and MMOs are too, but there are plenty that aren’t. As a matter of fact, most of the games that participated in the Asian games weren’t violent at all – the participating titles were: Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Pro Evolutions Soccer 2018 and StarCraft 2. While it is understandable that Bach doesn’t want gore-fests or games that celebrate violence in the games, his hard stance on games in general, however it is quite important to acknowledge that there are several esports that are, in fact, Olympics-ready.

Bach’s speech following the conclusion of the Asian games wasn’t completely about video games however – he also talked up Indonesia’s chances of landing the 2032 Olympics (2020, 2024 and 2028 have already been picked and are Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles). According to him, the country stands a good chance.

Furthermore, he also commented on the ongoing doping issues that continue to plague the Olympics, as well as corruption. Corruption was a particularly hot topic surrounding the Brazil Olympics, as the organising committee member has since  been arrested for bribery, fraud and other charges. He maintains his innocence on the matter.

As for doping, this issue first blew up in a major way at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Of course, doping had been an issue before, however it was at these games that a Russian, state-run doping scandal was exposed. Needless to say, the Olympic teams and the Committee are very strongly against these matters, however Bach made a point to ask people for realism in their expectations – “You have to be realist, and this means that there will never come the day when we will be able to say we have won the war against doping,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it appears to be that as long as human beings are in competition with each other you will always have some who are looking for their own advantage even by the violation of laws and rules.”