Leaving aside the thorny issue of whether eSports qualify as actual sports for a moment, the International Olympic Committee has effectively ruled out the addition of eSports to the Olympic Games.
Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the Asian Games, IOC president Thomas Bach said “killer games” were the reason why videogames could potentially never be considered Olympic sporting events.
“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” he said to the AP. “So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.”
It would appear the IOC is basically throwing all games into the same bucket, regardless of whether it’s CSGO or Rocket League, Rainbow 6 Siege or FIFA. Needless to the say, the IOC is more than happy to support boxing, shooting, karate, and taekwondo. But a rocket-powered car football? No, no, no, no. It just wouldn’t do.
“Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people,” continued Bach. “But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”
Naturally, there is a demand for esports at the Olympic Games, and the IOC are only going to come under mounting pressure each year. Evidently, the stance that these aren’t sports isn’t carrying much weight right now, leading to a shift towards calling out eSports games as violent.
For eSports, it’s not the be all and end all of course. There’s going to be a heck of a lot of money in eSports regardless of its recognition by the IOC, who for their part don’t even include sports like cricket or squash, which are definitively sports, and popular ones at that.
What are your thoughts, is the IOC right to disregard eSports as a violent competition? Or are they oversimplifying a complex issue?