In a move which slowly edges eSports towards a potential berth at the Olympic games, the International Olympic Committee has announced an ‘eSports Forum’ scheduled for later this month. The forum aims to gather representatives from the eSports community, the Global Association of International Sports Federations, and the Olympic movement to ‘explore synergies, build joint understanding and set a platform for future engagement’.
The forum has come about as a direct result of discussions held at the Olympic Summit last October, where stakeholders asked the IOC to investigate the potential for eSports’ involvement in the quadrennial games.
Taking place at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 21st, the forum’s program is broken down into a number of panels aiming to cover all aspects of what eSports entails for both athletes, the gaming industry, and how it aligns with the values of the Olympic Movement and the structure of traditional sports. The forum also features exposés into what it means to be an elite eSports athlete, an insight into how the biggest eSports events currently operate, and a panel on gender equality in sports.
A dedicated media and broadcasting panel will cover how eSports are watched and followed by a youthful demographic the IOC has long struggled to captivate, as well as a take on the financial aspects of eSports, notably investor opportunities. Representatives from the gaming industry and eSports will also be given the opportunity to express ‘what they would like to see in terms of collaboration opportunities with the Olympic Movement’.
Recognizing the unparalleled popularity of eSports, the IOC notes in a press release ‘that sport never stands still and the phenomenal growth of esports and gaming is part of its continuing evolution. The Esports Forum provides an important and extremely valuable opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of esports, their impact and likely future development, so that we can jointly consider the ways in which we may collaborate to the mutual benefit of all of sport in the years ahead’.
By no means a clear nod for inclusion of eSports in future Games, the forum marks a step in the right direction and acknowledgement by the IOC that it is taking professional gaming seriously.