The International Olympic Committee is reportedly considering the inclusion of esports as a medal event in the 2024 Olympics that will be held in Paris, as reported by the Guardian.
The next meeting between the Paris bit committee and the IOC will be held in Peru this September, where Paris will be formally confirmed as the host city of the 2024 Olympics. The Paris team lead by Tony Estanguet will recommend the inclusion of esports as a new discipline to the IOC.
The IOC is still lukewarm on esports, with Thomas Bach, its president, stating that they are “not yet 100% clear” on the status of esports as a real sport. However, the IOC sees the potential of esports for bringing in new audiences – especially the younger demographic. They see the benefit in that it could steer them towards doing ‘real’ sports.
Bach also objected to violence in video games, claiming the inclusion of such games would go against the Olympic spirit, which is all about unity, peace and honest competition. This could spell trouble for those hoping to see Call of Duty or CS:GO at the Olympics, as Bach categorically ruled out the inclusion of any games featuring weapons, explosions and killing.
Esports is already seeing the well-deserved recognition in Asia. The 2022 Asian Games in China will feature esports as a true medal sport. This is significant as the Asian Games are the second-largest multi-sport event, after the Summer Olympics.
To illustrate the scope of esports, the analyst group Newzoo reports that esports generated about $500 million in revenue last year. The market is projected to expand by half in this year alone. The Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, one of the largest esports events, drew in over 170 thousand fans and reached 46 million unique viewers online this year.
The final decision on what disciplines will warrant inclusion is due in 2020 after the Tokyo Olympics. While it looks promising, the IOC has been notoriously conservative in this regard, so expectations should be adjusted accordingly. Still, if the explosive growth of esports continues for the next few years, it will be a huge elephant in the room for the IOC to simply ignore.