Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee stated that violent video games are “contradictory” to Olympic Games’ values and cannot be accepted as an official sport as a result in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” Bach said. “So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.”
The concerns regarding violence and video games raised by the Olympic Committee president is one more point of view in a continued debate. The concerns of esports and violence is, however, a fresh concern after the tragic Jacksonville shooting last month, in which two people were killed at a “Madden NFL 19” tournament.
Thomas Bach, himself a past Olympic gold medalist in fencing, still drew the distinction between sports in which competitors are directly fighting (such as fencing or boxing) and the violence found in video games.
“Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people,” Bach stated. “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.”
Esports was already a demonstration sport in the 2018 Asian Games with potential to become a “full-medal event” by the 2022 games, according to AP.
The Asian Games organizers faulted US gun laws for the shooting in Jacksonville, rather than esports. Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, said that the shooting “is a bigger issue of gun control and access to guns.”
An esports tournament was also held during the 2018 Special Olympics in cooperation with Microsoft earlier this summer. Sixteen players participated in the tournament by playing “Forza Motorsport 7,” a popular racing game.
In terms of whether or not the Olympic Games would consider adding in non-violent video games like “Forza” as a competition, we could not receive further clarification on this matter, as the Olympics press team did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.