The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially brought the world of Esports into the Olympic fold, approving the construction of a new arena and introducing requisite documentation for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.
Rumors are still flying left and right, but early speculations are calling for the inclusion of: Starcraft 2, League of Legends, and DotA 2. Official updates will come out within the next three months or so, detailing which specific competitions are going to make it to the 2024 games. It is believed that the Esports teams will include players from China, the US, Korea, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, with more to be announced as the committee works on the finer details.
It has been a long road coming for the inclusion of Esports to the Olympic Games, with more than its fair share of hurdles. Video gaming has often been looked down upon by professional athletes, with the IOC only officially recognizing competitive computer gaming as a sport six months ago. Many Olympians have expressed their displeasure at the notion of gaming becoming an international Olympic competition, stating that “physical sports belong in the Olympics” and “I don’t think Esports belong in the Olympics”. Even former IOC members have said that Esports should never replace “real” sports participation. Luckily for us gamers, the current members of the committee have evidently kept an open mind and are ready for the next step.
It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing Esports at the upcoming 2020 games in Tokyo, but it should be noted that adding any competition to the Olympics is a long and trying process. Normally, a sport’s international federation has to petition the IOC, filling out questionnaires that can be up to 100 pages long about information like gender equality, how passionate its fans are, how many countries around the world play the sport, how many people attend the competitions, and so on and so forth. The committee also factors in the cost of constructing new facilities for the games, looking to avoid a repeat of the 2004 Olympics in Athens where the arenas went over budget, were permanent fixtures, and have since been abandoned in the wake of Greece’s financial crises.
Luckily for the gaming community, the IOC also looks to see if the competitions in question appeal to millennials.
After the IOC executive board reviews proposals, they’ll give a go-ahead and all that needs to happen at that point is approval from the rest of the committee. Typically, these decisions are made about seven years in advance (which is why we won’t be seeing any Esports in Tokyo in two years) and are open to reassessment following their initial introduction. With the Paris games only six years away, not seven, Esports may be cutting it a little close to the wire. However, if all goes well in 2024, competitive gaming on the Olympic stage may be here to stay.
For more information, keep a close eye on the official 2024 Olympics Page.