The International Olympic Committee, IOC, have recently recognized the rapid growth in participation and popularity when it comes to Esports, and they’ve began to open up to the idea of permanently adding Esports to its list of sporting competitions. The Olympics and Esports relationships have become increasingly intertwined in the past few years, as it seems that a final conjunction between the two is inevitable.
Olympic Esports Series
After recognizing Esports as a sporting competition in March 2021, the IOC has created the Olympic Esports Series, OES, which is the first Olympic sponsored Esports competition. The OES is scheduled to take place during the Olympic Esports Week, with the inaugural OEW being held in 2023.
The Olympic Esports Week is a global virtual and simulated sports competition, and is scheduled to be held in-person from June 22 to the 25 at the Suntec Centre in Singapore. OEW was created conjointly by the IOC, International Federations (IFs), and a number of game publishers. Although the OES won’t take place until June, qualification competitions began on March 1st, with a number of both professional and amateur Esports competitors competing to earn a spot in the competition.
Although there is much excitement and anticipation around the 2023 OES, a number of people within the Esports world have expressed their concerns about the list of competitions being offered. The IOC offers nine sports across different games, as the list includes Archery (Tic Tac Bow), Baseball (WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER Pros), Chess (chess.com), Cycling (Zwift), Dance (Just Dance), Motor sport (Gran Turismo), Sailing (Virtual Regatta), Tennis (Tennis Clash), and Taekwondo (Virtual Taekowndo).
Although the list of games features a wide array of Esports competitions, notable games such as League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, Fortnite, and more are absent. This has disappointed the Esports community, but has demonstrated the IOC’s intention to only include sports-related games and competitions. However, it does seem like there were a number of missed opportunities, as the popular sports games like Fifa, NBA 2k, Formula One, and Rocket League, who feature larger followings than the listed games, were not included either.
Although the creation of OES is a step in the right direction, it definitely seems like the IOC and IFs still have a long way to go before they’re able to capture the audience that they’re looking for and incorporate Esports into the Olympics in an authentic way. In it’s first go around at the 2023 OES, it will be interesting to see the level of viewership and success that the competition is able to achieve.
Future of Esports in the Olympics
With the creation of the OES, the IOC has demonstrated their interest in adding Esports to the Olympics permanently. They had previously debated adding auto racing, baseball, cycling, rowing, and sailing to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, but eventually decided against it. The IOC have demonstrated interest in Esports since 2017, and after their dedication to creating Olympic sponsored Esports competitions, it would be no surprise to see Esports at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, or if not by then, at the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
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