By: Lydia Donaldson
As esports continues to grow in popularity, we’ve been seeing more and more conversations about whether or not to include esports in the Olympics.
We’ve seen many sports added to the Olympics over the years. For example, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and breakdancing have been approved for the upcoming 2024 summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said these new additions are meant to attract a younger audience according to an article from the English version of AS. If that’s the case, then our favorite esports leagues would be a great inclusion, but there is more criteria.
In order for a sport to even be considered for the Olympics, there are five main factors. From then there are 35 more subcategories that the proposed sport has to fit into, which is mostly up to the IOC’s discretion.
The criteria includes history, popularity, ability to be arranged at venues and many more.
There’s no doubt esports is popular. Insider Intelligence estimates esports will generate nearly $2 billion in revenue with 29.6 million monthly esports viewers in 2022 and will continue to increase.
Many argue that esports does not deserve a spot in the Olympics because of the lack of esports’ physicality. Similar to any Olympic athlete, esports athletes start their sport at a young age and train rigorously for years. It can be physically straining on the player’s wrists and hands, but it is without a doubt mentally straining.
The biggest concern in the IOC’s eyes, however, is actually game violence, according to a Planet9 blog post. Some of the most popular games in esports are First Person Shooters (FPS), which contain violence, guns and gore. “If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values,” said IOC President Thomas Bach at the 2018 Asian Games according to a BBC article.
The IOC has already implemented official virtual games to increase digital engagement. From May 13 through June 23 in 2021, the Olympic Virtual Series was held.
“The Olympic Virtual Series is a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports,” Bach said, reported by the Washington Post.
This new series introduced five events—virtual baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing and motor sport. The goal was to spark excitement and allow people from all over the globe to participate from home. “It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values with a special focus on youth,” said Bach.
While these aren’t the typical video games we expect to see in pro esports, we are getting much closer to seeing our favorite games as the IOC includes more digitalization to the Olympics.
According to a Quartz article, there is a good chance esports will be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The head of LA’s Olympic Games Casey Wasserman is in favor of esports.