COMPETITIVE e-sports could be part of the Olympic experience as long as it adhered to Olympic values, the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday.
The rapidly growing world of e-sports and its popularity among young people has ignited the interest of the IOC as it looks to refresh its own ageing audience and make the Games relevant to a new generation.
“The Summit agreed that ‘eSports’ are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement,” the IOC said in a statement after the meeting with Olympic stakeholders in Lausanne.
Those stakeholders included international federations, national Olympic committees and athletes’ representatives among others.
“Competitive “eSports” could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports,” it said.
But any future inclusion in the Games would require official recognition of it as an Olympic sport and would also need a governing organisation that would guarantee compliance “with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement.”
E-sports include competitive gaming where players square off in lucrative tournaments and draw millions of spectators online.
Global audiences are expected to reach 385.5 million this year, according to research firm Newzoo.
E-sports will be part of the medals event at the 2022 Asian Games, while many professional sports teams have also set up their own “e-teams” competing for national and international titles.