The quest to include esports in the Olympic Games gathers pace today (July 21st) when the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in partnership with the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF), holds a forum to explore esports opportunities within the Olympic movement.
Former NBA star Rick Fox will oversee the event in Lausanne, Switzerland. Fox has invested heavily in esports over the past couple of years, establishing his own franchise – Echo Fox. The franchise runs teams who have become well-known in esports betting and these days you can find many options to bet on in the different UK betting sites.
The esports market is currently valued at around $1 billion and its mainstream exposure has sparked an explosion in interest from the gambling industry. This is likely to bring a whole new raft of investors into esports and the genre’s potential inclusion in the Olympics could see increased levels of sponsorship and broadcast deals.
Members of the esports community attending the forum will include representatives of Riot Games, Epic Games, Blizzard, ESL and others. Overwatch players Geguri of the Shanghai Dragons and Jake of the Houston Outlaws are amongst the esports players invited.
The forum follows on from October's Olympic Summit, which tasked the IOC and GAISF with exploring the connection between gaming and the Olympics. The IOC has been on a mission to investigate competitions in which younger people are interested, with the recent inclusion of snowboarding, BMX and freestyle skiing highlighting their push towards modernity.
Esports will have an opportunity to showcase itself at the Asian Games in August, where it will run a test event with six video games. This will be the first time esports has been featured at a major international athletic competition.
There are numerous issues to be ironed out before esports could seriously be considered for the Olympics. A single, recognised governing body or federation that represented the whole of esports, in the same way that FIFA oversees football, is number one on the list of priorities.
Representatives of the International e-Sport Federation and the Asian esports Federation will be in attendance with a view to finding ways this can be achieved.
Another issue is the amount of violence in some games. The IOC has insisted that games with “a strong reflection of violence” will not be part of the Olympic movement. This would of course limit the number of possible competitive games that could potentially be included in the Olympics.
The ultimate aim is to see esports featured in some form at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, although there is plenty of work to do between now and then before this could come to fruition.
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