The IOC and Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) will host a two-day eSports forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, get a better grip on competitive gaming.
“We understand that sport never stands still and the phenomenal growth of eSports and gaming is part of its continuing evolution,” GAISF president Patrick Baumann said in a statement. “The eSports Forum provides an important and extremely valuable opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of eSports, their impact and likely future development, so that we can jointly consider the ways in which we may collaborate to the mutual benefit of all of sport in the years ahead.”
Last year, the IOC recognized eSports as a sports activity, the first clear indication to the growing industry that it wants to link up.
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Competitive gaming has amassed more than an estimated 250 million players around the world in a market worth over a billion dollars annually.
In April, the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) said it was in talks with organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympics about incorporating the discipline as a demonstration sport at the Games.
“The local Olympic organizing committee and the city are supporting this movement, so this will be a stronger message towards the IOC that eSports could be included as a demonstration title in 2024.”IeSF’s Leopold Chung told Reuters.
President Thomas Bach has also expressed concern over the violent nature of eSports, and has said they couldn’t be considered for Olympic Games.
“We have to draw a very clear red line in this respect and that red line would be e-games which are killer games or where you have promotion of violence or any kind of discrimination as a content. … They can never be recognised as part of the Olympic movement,” Bach told reporters in April. “They would be contrary to our values and our principles.”
The IOC said Wednesday the eSports forum is “purely an exploratory meeting.”
“It’s to meet and understand what we have in common and what we don’t have in common and to put our principles on the table,” IOC’s Marks Adams said at a news conference. “There’s no thought at all at the moment of it being anything to do with the Olympic program.
“I think we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. I understand Paris wanted to do some showcasing around the Games with eSports, that’s entirely fine, but that’s very very different from it being on the program which is not being considered at all at this moment,” Adams said.
IOC sports director Kit McConnell also reiterated Wednesday “the goal of that forum is one of engagement.”
“And not one of creating a pathway towards the Olympic program.”
Though eSports may not be included in the upcoming Games, it will included as a medal event for the 2022 Asian Games in China.