E-sports can meet the Olympic ideals
E-sports is being touted as a possible medal event at the 2024 Paris Olympics. While the violence that is inherent to e-sports may seem to create a dilemma for the guardians of the Olympic spirit, game makers will surely rise to the challenge
What sets e-sports apart from sports like surfing and skateboarding, aside from their inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is that competitive video-gaming has no need to be boosted by such recognition. Even without it, e-sports commands growing attention and funding – especially among the millennials courted by Olympic chiefs. Last year CNN put the global audience for e-sports at nearly 300 million, on course to double by 2020, and global revenue at nearly US$500 million and rising. Tournaments pack big venues in the mainland, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States.
That said, e-sports is suddenly being touted as a possible medal event at the Paris summer games in 2024. On the face of it, this creates a dilemma for the modern guardians of the Olympic ideals comparable with the emergence of drug-cheating. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has said that while it wanted a younger audience, it would embrace e-sports only if the gore and violence was removed. “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence and peace among people.”
There is no question e-sports can deliver a rights bonanza for the Olympics. Thanks to streaming, people around the world watch tournaments from their homes. The physical differences between competitive video-gaming and traditional Olympic sports are not as great as they may seem. The skills, stamina and long hours of practice required of professional gamers mean that like athletes, they need healthy bodies and minds. It is a young person’s sport where players need to think of the future, so perhaps e-sports scholarships to top American universities may not be out of the question.
The values Bach invokes against gratuitous violence will attract support but it is far from a black and white issue. After all, athletics shares the summer games programme with shooting competitions, despite firearms being linked to real-life violence.
However, we trust that when the time comes to shoot Olympic video games the makers will rise to the challenge of reining in violence in the spirit of the Olympic ideals.