The addition of eSports as an Olympic event appears to be fighting a larger uphill battle than previously thought.
This past Saturday, in an interview with Associated Press reporters, International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, made it crystal clear that video games portraying violent acts or discrimination will not be considered for incorporation into the Olympic Games.
“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” Bach stated. “So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot, therefore, be accepted.”
The interview took place at the Asian Games 2018 Jakarta-Palembang, which is considered the second-largest multi-sport event following the Olympics. For the first time ever, video games and eSports were included as a demonstration event, featuring the games of Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer, and StarCraft II. As a demonstration event, players were able to participate in tournaments for each game, but medals won were not added to each country’s total medal count.
Bach – a gold medal-winning Olympic fencer – maintained the same sentiment about combat sports as he had during the esports forum that took place in July:
“Of course, every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”
Bach’s struggle with the idea of adding eSports as an Olympic event is no real surprise. The dialogue surrounding the inclusion is still very much in its infancy. His statements regarding violent video games also come fresh on the heels of the shooting that took place at a Madden NFL tournament in Jacksonville. While the President of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, Kenneth Fok, stated, “I think this is a bigger issue of gun control and access to guns,” it is likely that the incident will only make it harder for heavy-hitting eSports titles such as League of Legends and Overwatch to make it into the Olympic Games as an event anytime soon.
The next meeting to discuss eSports’ inclusion into the Olympic Games will take place next month at the Olympism in Action Forum. It will be interesting to see if the discussion is as open and progressive as it was in July.