The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is exploring plans for the creation of Olympic Esports Games.
According to IOC President Thomas Bach there are three billion people playing esports and gaming around the world. It is estimated that over 500 million of them are interested specifically in esports, which includes virtual sports and sport simulations.
“What is even more relevant to us: a majority of them are under the age of 34,” said Bach. “I have asked our new IOC Esports Commission to study the creation of Olympic Esports Games.”
The IOC has been engaging with esports since 2018 in a holistic way.
“We chose an approach that would allow us to be active in the esports space while staying true to our values that have guided us for over a century. With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross. Our crystal-clear position is gaining more and more respect also in the esports community. One of the leading publishers even adapted their popular game to conform fully with our Olympic values – so that players shot at targets, not at people,” the IOC President emphasised.
The first engagement of the IOC with the esports community was the organisation of the Esports Forum in 2018 in Lausanne, followed by the set-up of an Esports Liaison Group to have a platform to engage with all the esports stakeholders. In 2021, the IOC developed the Olympic Virtual Series. It was the IOC’s first pilot venture in esports.
President Bach explained: “Building on the learnings from this Olympic Virtual Series, we then launched the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore earlier this year. In Singapore, we saw proof that our holistic approach is working. We successfully brought together the Olympic and the esports communities.”
A highlight of the Olympic Esports Week was the live finals, created in collaboration with the International Sports Federations (IFs) and publishers. Over 130 players from across the globe came together to compete in the Olympic spirit on the global stage, in 10 mixed-gender category events. Players were cheered on by a full house of fans in Singapore, with all the action streamed online. Including the qualifiers, the Olympic Esports Series attracted over 500,000 unique participants. The Olympic Esports Series generated more than 6 million views of live action over all channels, with 75 per cent of views from people aged 13 until 34.
“This was a promising start. But it is just that: a start. It is like in any sport: after even a promising start, the real race still lies ahead,” Thomas Bach concluded.