Discussing Inclusion of Esports in Olympic Games Deemed ‘Premature’

Discussing Inclusion of Esports in Olympic
Greg Martin/International Olympic Committee

Including esports in the Olympic Games was a point of discussion ultimately determined to be “premature” during the seventh Olympic summit on Saturday, according to a post on the official Olympics website.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) met in Lausanne on Saturday to discuss various concerns, of which the inclusion of esports in the Olympic games was included.

The committee acknowledged that the increasing popularity of esports is competing for “the leisure time of young people” and thus it should not ignore the growth of the esports industry. However, there are multiple concerns to address before inclusion of esports is possible. Firstly, the definition of sport and whether it can be used to apply to esports.

“It was agreed that competitive gaming entails physical activity which can be compared to that required in more traditional sports,” the news update from the IOC stated. “This, on the other hand, cannot necessarily be said to apply to leisure electronic gaming. For this reason, the use of the term sport with regard to esports/egames needs further dialogue and study.”

Ultimately, for this reason and others, it was determined that the discussion “about the inclusion of esports/egames as a medal event on the Olympic programme” is, at this point in time, premature.

To go into other reasons as to why the IOC came to this conclusion, there were some concerns about the compatibility between the content of some esports titles and the values of the Olympics. The post noted that “cooperation with [these titles] is excluded.”

There are also concerns regarding how quickly the evolution of esports is occurring, from the shifting popularity of games to the “rapid development towards augmented reality and virtual reality.”

The fragmentation within the games industry based on “commercial operators” causes some division as well, and the industry being commercially-driven as a whole rather than “values-based” is a concern to the IOC.

As a result, the IOC decided that it will explore collaborative efforts with key individuals, meaning stakeholders, in the esports industry.

The determinations around esports, though, do not necessarily apply to some esports simulation titles, according to the news update. As such, “accelerated cooperation with regard to these kinds of esports is encouraged by the Summit” and the Summit will explore benefits of including these simulated versions of sports while ensuring “they gain or retain appropriate control over the electronic/virtual versions of their sports” and also “restricting their engagement to activation in the e-versions and virtual forms of their traditional sports.”