The Paris Olympic committee is open to including video games as an official sport in the 2024 Olympics, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, said in an interview with the AP that France is open to featuring the digital competitions due to the eSport market’s explosive growth over the last decade. Globally, eSports is a nearly billion dollar industry, and in 2016, the World Championship finals for League of Legends had 12 million more viewers than the 2016 NBA finals, according to gaming site Kotaku.
Estanguet, himself a three-time Olympic champion, said it’s only a matter of time until eSports are accepted, given their huge popularity among young people.
“We have to look at it because we can’t say, ‘It’s not us.’ It’s not about Olympics,” Estanguet said. “The youth, yes they are interested in eSport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.”
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) in will confirm the Paris Olympics Lima, Peru next month, as Los Angeles was its last competitor and forfeited its 2024 bid in favor of hosting the 2028 games, the Guardian reported.
Esports will also be a medal event at the 2022 Asia Games, though the games committee has yet to announce which titles will be featured for competition. The most likely candidates for both the Asia Games and the 2024 Olympics, however, are League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Games Like Halo and Call of Duty could also be featured, as they’re backed by tech giants like Microsoft and Activision.
Estanguet warned that the IOC has the last word on whether eSports will be included, however, and IOC officials’ responses to Asia Games featuring eSports have been less than promising.
“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether eSports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach told Inside the Games in April.
Bach did acknowledge that the addition would garner “high engagement from the youth.”
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