Paris 2024 Organizers in Talks to Bring Esports to the Olympics

Posted on: April 29, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: April 28, 2018, 12:12h.

Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics are said to be “deep in talks” with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the inclusion of esports as a demonstration sport at the Games, according to the International Esports Federation (IeSF).

Paris 2024
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is open to the idea of esports as a means to engage with younger people but games that involve violence would never be included in the Olympics, he said. (Image: Getty)

Last year, it was announced that competitive video gaming will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, and the IOC is said to be “under pressure” to embrace the phenomenon for the Olympics.

The committee is eager to ensure that the Games are engaging to young people and have introduced five new sports that it hopes will have millennial appeal to Tokyo 2020 – baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing.

‘No Violence’

When quizzed by reporters on whether esports could be next, IOC president Thomas Bach acknowledged that “cyber athletes” trained hard like traditional athletes, but said gaming still needed to prove that it was in harmony with Olympic ideals – and that means no first-person shooters.

The IOC is a very rules-based organisation therefore in order to be recognised in a way by the Olympic movement it is not enough just to show physical activity,” said Bach. “And the red line would be egames which are killer games, where you have the promotion of violence or any kind of discrimination as a content.

“They can never be recognised as a part of the Olympic movement because they would be contrary to our values and principles,” he added.

Esports has an estimated global audience of 320 million – enough to rival all but the biggest sports – and that audience is growing. It’s expected to rise to nearly 600 million by 2020 when it will generate an estimated $1.4 billion in global revenue.

$2 Billion Raised in Q1

“Paris would one day like to become an esports hub for Europe,” IeSF acting secretary general Leopold Chung told the BBC this week. “There are great engagement numbers, great fan numbers who live in France and especially in Paris, who would definitely want to come to an esports game.”

Chung said his organization aims to “work consistently to promote esport as a true sport beyond language, race and cultural barriers.”

Meanwhile, mainstream brands, from sports leagues, to casinos, to media companies, remain eager as ever to invest in esports as they seek to tap the elusive millennial market and buy themselves a stake in a multi-billion-dollar industry in the making.

A report published this week by The Esports Observer found esports companies had raised nearly $2 billion in investment funding in the first quarter of 2018 alone.