Video Games As Olympic Sports? IOC Hosts Gaming Forum To Discuss It

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The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris could feature a competitive gaming tournament, bringing gaming to the global event for the first time and making gaming an Olympic sport. Whether or not eSports gets into the Olympics will be decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the organisation took a further step in the discussion process this weekend.

The IOC and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) hosted an "eSports Forum" at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland this weekend. The purpose of the event was to "[begin] a dialogue to build joint understanding and set a platform for future engagement between the esports and gaming industries and the Olympic Movement."

More than 150 representatives from gaming attended the event, including professional gamers like Jacob Lyon from the Houston Outlaws pro Overwatch League team. Lyon interviewed IOC president Thomas Bach. Also in attendance was Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer, as well as former NBA player and eSports investor Rick Fox.

During the Forum, participants talked about potential collaboration opportunities, including the big one on everyone's mind: can gaming be a recognised Olympic sport? However, the Forum's directive was never to decide something about this, but instead it was meant to continue the discussion around the topic broadly.

"The Esports Forum was a unique opportunity to hear from a wide variety of stakeholders, including some of the top players themselves," IOC sports director Kit McConnell said in statement. "There was a consensus that future collaboration will be based on ensuring that any activity supports and promotes the Olympic values; and while the goal was not to develop a pathway towards the inclusion of esports on the Olympic programme, we have a strong plan for ongoing dialogue and engagement, and are in a strong position to coordinate and support the wider engagement of the Olympic Movement with esports."

This eSports Forum followed the Olympic Summit in 2017 when the IOC and people from the gaming community got together to talk about gaming and the Olympics. Looking ahead, the IOC and the GAISF have created the "Esports Liaison Group" that aims to "continue communication and engagement between the Olympic Movement and eSports and gaming stakeholders in order to identify areas of potential collaboration."

It's still a long road ahead for gaming at the Olympics. The next discussion will be held at the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires in October, which will be attended by members of the Esports Liaison Group and people from the Youth Olympic Games. After that, eSports will be further discussed at the GAISF IF Forum in November in Switzerland and then again with each of the world's 206 National Olympic Committees at the XXIII ANOC General Assembly meeting later in the month in Tokyo. The IOC will then officially put eSports on the agenda to be voted on at the Olympic Summit in December 2018.

A list of events for the 2024 Games in Paris will begin to take form in 2019, while the official list of sports will be announced after the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Last year, Bach--the IOC president--suggested that "violent" video games might not be included in the Olympics if video games do get approved. "We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people," Bach said. "This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions, and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line."

Bach suggested that it would be more likely that games like FIFA and NBA 2K would be at the Olympics, though nothing at all has been decided yet.

While gaming has yet to be featured as a medal event at the Olympics, eSports will be a medal event at the Asian Games in 2022. A list of games for the event has not been announced as of yet, however.

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