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E-sports

Hong Kong’s Kenneth Fok elected Asian e-sports chief – and taking video gaming to the Olympics is his goal

New chief says e-sports must ‘face up’ to cynicism over whether gaming can be considered a sport and adopt regulations on doping and fair play

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 9:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 10:40pm

Newly elected Asian e-Sports Federation president Kenneth Fok Kai-kong said his organisation was committed to pursuing Olympic status for computer gaming while also adopting the regulatory trappings of more traditional sports.

Fok said Asia was “at the crossroad” of the increasingly popular electronic sports, which are dominated by multiplayer computer and console games.

“Our vision for the federation is to have e-sports recognised as an Olympic sport, and that is clear,” said Fok, speaking in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat, which is hosting the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

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“We have to go about seeing e-sports as a traditional sport,” said Fok.

Fok was elected to his post unopposed after Kazakhstan’s veteran sports administrator Natalya Sipovich voluntarily stepped down after a decade in the position.

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As a rising star in the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the son of the president of the Hong Kong Olympic Federation Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, the 38-year-old Oxford graduate brings fresh clout to the role.

But Fok also said e-sports must “face up” to cynicism over whether gaming can be considered a sport and adopt regulations on doping and fair play in line with International Olympic Committee standards.

Fok faces a challenge to accelerate the sport’s development ahead of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, when it will be a medal sport for the first time in what is seen as an important step towards Olympic recognition.

E-sports made its debut at the Asian Indoor Games – a secondary OCA tournament featuring a number of non-Olympic disciplines – at Macau in 2007.

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The three-day e-sports tournament at Ashgabat 2017 starts next Monday and will see multiplayer tournaments of popular computer games such as Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Dota 2 and the King of Fighters XIV.