Esports will not become an official Olympic sport because they are “too violence”, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, has said.
The gaming community hoped that esports would soon be included in the Olympics following its inclusion at the recent Asian Games. It was only a demonstration sport this time around, but it could make its debut as a medal event at Hangzhou 2022.
Esport’s growing audience figures certainly make a strong case for its inclusion at the Olympics. The biggest events reach millions of viewers and the Olympics would undoubtedly attract similar ratings. However, Bach has played down the chance of that happening anytime soon, if ever.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Bach said:
“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination, so-called ‘killer games’.
“They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.”
Bach’s observation is a fair one. While not always the case, many esports titles do involve some element of killing your enemies. That is certainly the case in the vast majority of popular esports titles. Overwatch, League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, and Call of Duty are all guilty of this.
The recent shooting at an esports event in Florida, United States, will have done little to help. A player involved in a Madden tournament shot and killed two of his fellow players last week. However, while this has put video games and esports in a bad light, the majority feel that this is a gun law issue, rather than a video gaming one.
Kenneth Fok, head of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, said:
“I think this is a bigger issue of gun control and access to guns.”
Is esports any worse than boxing?
Many of the sports currently played at the Olympics seemingly contradict Bach’s claim that esports is too violent to be included.
Sports like boxing, martial arts and wrestling can result in serious harm to competitors and, in the most extreme cases, death. Yet, these sports continue to feature at the Olympic Games.
However, according to Bach, sport has helped to “civilise” these events in a way that esports simply cannot.
“Of course, every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilised expression about this,” Bach said. “If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought in line with our Olympic values.”