They may apparently require no more than a comfortable chair, decent knowledge of a computer screen and nimble mastery of controllers, but the International Olympic Committee insisted Saturday that eSports are indeed…sports.
An Olympic Summit, under the guidance of IOC president Thomas Bach, meeting in Lausanne hailed the phenomenal growth of video games.
In a statement, the Summit members agreed that “competitive eSports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports”.
The eSports explosion has already been widely recognised in Asia with the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, planning to include it as a medal sport for the first time in what is seen as an important step towards Olympic recognition.
“eSports are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement,” added the Olympic Summit statement.
However, Olympic chiefs were keen to keep enthusiasm in check.
“In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of eSports must not infringe on the Olympic values.
“A further requirement for recognition by the IOC must be the existence of an organisation guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement (anti-doping, betting, manipulation, etc.).”