Video games as an Olympic Sport?
In less than a month we enter the year 2019. In this run-up year towards the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we will see the Olympiads taking their ultimate form, as they prepare to bring home the medals. Among all the medal-winning sports that are being practised at the 2020 Olympics, one $1.65 billion sports industry is being left out.
ESports or Electronic Sports are competitive video game tournaments practised by professional gamers or so-called athletes. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the eSports industry growing at a tremendous pace. In the year 2016, its global revenue estimated around $493 million, in 2017 this number increased to $655 million and hit $905.6 million in 2018. If the industry keeps growing in its current pace, the global eSports market revenue will reach $1.65 billion in 2020.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) shared the results of the consideration, which left some feeling disappointed and others feeling relieved. Even though, the IOC admits that “competitive gaming entails physical activity which can be compared to that required in more traditional sports”. It fails to see a full integration into the Olympic program, mainly due to the ‘violence’ that is still present in the majority of the eSports tournament games. IOC president Thomas Bach described it as “some e-games are not compatible with the Olympic values”.
The IOC states that the “discussion about the inclusion of eSports/e-games as a medal event on the Olympic program is premature”.
In the future, we will see eSports as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. During this event, athletes from all over the world will be able to compete against each other in non-violent eSports tournaments that are supported by the Premier League, Uefa and Formula 1. Perhaps the IOC and other Olympic Committees are waiting patiently to receive more intel, but one thing is for sure – its rising popularity and growing revenue make it an industry to consider, that might attract a large and relatively young audience toward the Olympics and the original practised sports.
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