Video games could soon be taking the stage at the Olympic Games, as the Paris Olympic bid committee revealed that it will consider eSports as a medal event for the 2024 Olympics.
The popularity of eSports is evident as video game tournaments slowly creep into the mainstream, despite arguments on whether or not it is a real sport. Will eSports prove doubters wrong and find itself in the Olympics?
eSports In 2024 Olympics
Paris Olympic bid committee co-president Tony Estanguet revealed to the Associated Press that there will be discussions with eSports stakeholders and the International Olympic Committee on possibly adding eSports in the 2024 Olympics as a medal event.
Paris is expected to be confirmed as the host of the 2024 Olympics in an IOC meeting next month in Lima, Peru, after Los Angeles, its only competitor, agreed to instead host the 2028 Olympics.
Addressing questions on whether or not eSports is a real sport, Estanguet thinks that it should be seen as such so that the Olympics would be able to keep its popularity with current and future generations.
"We have to look at it because we can't say, 'It's not us. It's not about Olympics,'" said Estanguet, adding that the youth's interest in eSports makes it deserve consideration as a medal event.
"I don't want to say 'no' from the beginning. I think it's interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the esports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success," Estanguet added.
Estanguet said that the Paris Olympic bid committee will spend time after the September meeting of the IOC to hold meetings regarding the viability of eSports in the 2024 Olympics, the program for which will only start to take shape in 2019. The final decision of the sports that will be added, however, will be made by the IOC, upon completion of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
eSports: A Real Sport?
eSports has greatly risen in popularity, leading to increased presence in international sports tournaments despite the debate: is eSports a real sport?
The 2016 Olympics in Rio included an eGames showcase, marking the first time that eSports was mentioned during the Olympics. The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia will feature eSports demonstrations, in advance of the official inclusion of eSports in the 2022 Asian Games as a medal event.
Various video game companies have also taken advantage of the wave of interest for eSports. Blizzard will soon launch the Overwatch League, which mimics the structure of professional sports leagues and will provide a minimum salary of $50,000 for each player.