LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The International Olympic Committee published an updated stance on esports. As part of a press announcement covering the committee meeting, the IOC took another look at esports in regards to the Olympics.
After receiving a report from the Chair of the Esports and Gaming Liaison Group, Union Cycliste Internationale President David Lappartient, the committee decided to implement a “two-speed approach.” The IOC believes that games simulating real sports should be treated differently than other games.
The IOC believes these simulators can be used to help promote the “sports movement.” With the growth of virtual reality and augmented reality, some of these games are becoming more realistic. The IOC took this into consideration when deciding how to handle them. They’re encouraging the International Federations to “consider how to govern electronic and virtual forms of their sport and explore opportunities with game publishers.”
Games not focused on real sports will receive a different treatment. The IOC suggests that the sports movement should focus on esports players instead of specific games. The committee believes focusing on individuals will promote “the participation in sport and its benefits as well as healthy lifestyle at all levels.”
The section of the statement on esports closes with a simple promise to promote a “continuous dialogue between the Olympic Movement and Esports and gaming communities.”
On the surface, this plan seems like a step backward from the IOC’s previous statements. In 2017, the IOC concluded that “Competitive ‘esports’ could be considered as a sporting activity.” At the time, it seemed that the biggest hurdle esports needed to overcome would be the need for governing bodies. It was assumed that organizations like the newly created Global Esports Federation would provide a bridge for esports to enter the Olympics. However, the committee stated that any esports being considered needs to comply with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement.
This restriction disqualifies all games that include violence. Although there are many games that do not contain violence, most non-violent esports are also sports simulations. This may explain the reasoning of the IOC.
Many esports enthusiasts may not be encouraged by the IOC’s decision. However, if simulated sports can enter the Olympics, this helps open the door for other esports. The Olympics has always wanted to encourage positive behaviors and often avoids controversial issues. Currently, the effects of violent video games are a hotly debated issue. Until scientists are able to fully determine side effects, the IOC will likely not rule on whether most esports can become a full part of the Olympic movement.
Written by Efren Hurtado