Video games are knocking at the door of the olympic Games

Sport 24 September, 2017

Photo: Jeff Pachoud Archives Agence France-Presse
Like professional sports, the players are being followed by coaches and nutritionists. They train regularly and win prizes that can reach millions of dollars in stadiums, bringing together 50 000 spectators.

A geek addicted to video games soon to be olympic champion ? This scenario, which could appear far-fetched a few years ago no longer is, really : sport, electronics (called e-sport in English), whose craze continues to grow, knocks at the door of the olympic Games and does not leave indifferent.


It is the dream of many actors and leaders in the sport électonique : that this discipline, yet well away from traditional sports, and even for some of the sport, while short, does its entry in the olympic Games. A dream that begins to take shape…


The door was half open officially in early August by Tony Estanguet, the chairman of the committee of the olympic games 2024, a few weeks prior to the appointment of Paris : “We must address it because what you can’t ignore, and say : “This is not us, this is not compatible with the olympic Games.” It is interesting that we discuss all together in order to better understand how it works and why e-sport has had so much success. “


A small revolution. Because before you even think about integrating the olympics, the discipline is still far from being accepted as a sport as such.


“It is an ongoing debate,” said AFP Kenneth Fok, the new president of the asian Federation of electronic sport (ASEF) in an interview with the AFP.


“However, e-sport requires many skills and abilities that make it a sport, such as endurance, team-work, between five or six people, the reactivity,” he says.


“It is not 100% sure that the e-sport is really a sport “, had yet let go of Thomas Bach in April. But the IOC president has somewhat moderated its position a few days after the release of Estanguet.


If he excluded to see violent video games “contrary to the olympic values,” making their entry to the olympics, its position appears to have evolved on the video games of sports.


A bonanza for the olympic movement


It must be said that the discipline, which generates a turnover that is expected to increase to one billion dollars by 2018, according to the centre Baird Equity Research, with a global audience of around 500 million spectators, begins to occupy a non-negligible place.


And the lobbying begins to bear fruit. As if, for the moment, sports tournaments electronics are organized at the margins of major competitions, such as those of the asian Games, martial arts and indoor sports this week in Ashgabat, it should integrate the asian Games scheduled in 2022 in Hangzhou, China, as a discipline, ” médaillable “.


Like professional athletes, players of electronic sport, who compete just as well on video games, soccer (FIFA 18), martial arts (Street Fighter), war games (Call of Duty) or strategy (League of Legends) are followed by coaches, trainers and nutritionists. They train regularly and win prizes that can reach millions of dollars in stadiums, bringing together 50 000 spectators.


“Yes, it is not in the process of sweating, really, it is not in the open air, but [the discipline] has a lot of other elements that make it a sport, says Mr Fok. Our vision is to put e-sports on the table, and finally be on the agenda of the olympic games. “


This young president, 38 years old, hauling in the supports, including those of some of the sponsors of the olympics, as the chinese giant electronic commerce AliBaba, which has invested heavily in the electronic sport.




E-sports must also pay attention to the dangers inherent in video games, such as the dependency and the presence of games that are sometimes very violent, where the points are earned by killing a maximum of characters.


Kenneth Fok sees even further : once an olympic sport, electronic sport could be split into several types of competitions, such as ” tournaments of robots “, or ” races of drones, which is not very different from the F1 “.


“These are long-term goals, but I think we are on the right track,” says the new president.