This past weekend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) hosted an “eSports Forum” at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland for the purpose of discussing the possibility of competitive video gaming events taking place at the Olympics. Over 150 representatives from the gaming community attended the event, including video game giant Blizzard Entertainment.
We’re thrilled to join @IOCMedia, @gaisf_sport at the @olympicmuseum in Lausanne, Switzerland for the #EsportsForum! Forum begins tonight, July 20 at 11:30PM Pacific Time Zone (PDT)/ July 21 8:30AM Central European Summer Time (CEST).
— Blizzard Entertainment (@Blizzard_Ent) July 20, 2018
Other members included professional gamers such as Jacob Lyon, from the Houston Outlaws Overwatch competitive team, as well as Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer. If you want to check out the full list of participants, as well as the program, click right here. Discussions among the participants were mostly about a potential collaboration between esports and the IOC, however there was only one big question that everyone wanted to ask: can video gaming be considered an Olympic sport? While everyone hopes for a resolution to that never ending debate, the forum was never intended to give us an answer. Instead it was meant to continue the working relationship between the IOC, GAISF, and esports while broadly discuss the topic at hand. The IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnel said this after the Forum:
The Esports Forum was a unique opportunity to hear from a wide variety of stakeholders, including some of the top players themselves. 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.
The IOC and esports are no strangers to each other, as they have held tournaments in conjunction before, such as the StarCraft II tournament which took place before the 2018 Winter Olympics. On top of that, we’ve already seen video games showcased at an Olympic level, as just earlier this month a Forza 7 tournament was held during the Special Olympics, the first time in history that a video game was considered an athletic sport. With the ever growing mindset that competitive gaming could be considered as such, it’s no surprise that the IOC and the GAISF held such an important meeting. At the end of the forum, IOC President, Thomas Bach, made his closing remarks:
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) July 21, 2018
The forum appears to have had an impact of sorts, as the IOC and the GAISF announced the formation of the Esports Liason Group (ELG), who’s purpose will be to continue communication for the Olympic Movement and for the eSports future collaborations. Members of the ELG will be invited to the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires, which takes place from October 5-6, for further talks with the benefit of athletes from the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) who will also attend. It seems that the gears are finally in motion for video gaming to be seriously considered for the Olympics, but the road to actually seeing it happen will be a long one. The next Olympic games that can be considered for such a reality are the 2024 Games in Paris, as the meetings for the list of events will begin sometime in 2019, with the finalization not taking place until after the 2020 Tokyo Games. Here’s hoping it finally comes to pass.
You can check out the entire eSport Forum here: