From 2020-2025, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recently proposed a new gameplan for the Olympic Agenda. This outline consists of 15 recommendations that will guide both the IOC and the Olympic Movement for the next five years. In March this year, the IOC members will discuss this proposed guide and decide what recommendations they should and shouldn’t adopt.
Among these 15 recommendations is the “[encouraging of development in] virtual sports and further, engage with video gaming communities” which means that the possibility of esports reaching the Olympic arena is a strong possibility. However, this depends on the IOC’s interpretation as - the IOC members - could translate this recommendation to create a refreshed Olympics video game, similar to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 or London 2012.
After further reading, the article underlines that these recommendations “are based on key trends that have been identified as likely to be decisive in the post-coronavirus world” and also fit into the Olympic key values and ethos, where challenges evolve into opportunities. This suggests that the EB of the IOC has acknowledged the popularity and enormity of esports, where it vies for viewership numbers beyond live sports.
Two other recommendations that would go hand-in-hand with introducing esports into the Olympic arena are: “growth in digitalisation while keeping in mind the need to expand digital capability to the currently digitally underserved” and “grow digital engagement with people”. Esports relies heavily on digital presence and engagement via social media channels such as; Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Esports is rarely televised on broadcast media; thus online platforms to communicate with its audience are made of digitally inclined people. Not only that, but esports has been able to rapidly grow because it doesn’t require you to have a satellite or TV licence and is available around the clock worldwide. So if the IOC decide to reach out to the world of esports and include them in the Olympic teams, they’d also inadvertently expand their digital capabilities, engagement and growth.
For now, though, we’ll just have to wait patiently for more news on the matter by March. And who knows, potentially we could be watching our favourite Fornite Players battle it out for a gold medal at the 2024 Olympics.