Debates have raged for years regarding video games’ status as a true “sports,” but it appears that there could be an authoritative decision on the matter in the not-too-distant future. The International Olympics Committee and the Paris Olympic bid committee will soon meet to discuss the possibility of esports making an appearance in the 2024 Olympic Games.
Paris Olympic bid committee co-president Tony Estanguet revealed the news to the Associated Press in an interview early today, saying that he wants to “find some bridges” with the esports community in order to attract a younger audience.
“I don’t want to say ‘no’ from the beginning,” Estanguet added. “I think it’s interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the esports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success.”
Regardless of the final decision, it will be quite a while before we hear more information. The plans for the 2024 games won’t be finalized until 2019.
Competitive gaming has gained considerable traction on traditional sports outlets over the last few years. For two seasons, ESPN hosted games of Blizzard’s popular multiplayer title Heroes of the Storm. At the time, the decision drew its share of detractors, including former ESPN host Colin Cowherd, who called esports “for booger eaters.” (Cowherd was later fired from ESPN after making disparaging comments about Dominicans.)
Just last month, ESPN and Disney XD aired footage from the popular Evolution 2017 fighting game tournament. Segments broadcast on television included Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Street Fighter V.
Should the IOC decide to introduce sports at the Paris games, it will have a wide mix of genres to choose from. While competitive fighting games are extremely popular in North America and Japan and the MOBA League of Legends has an enormous South Korean following, FIFA has a huge player-base in both South America and Europe. Could this be the first time real-life soccer and virtual soccer come together at the same event? Only time will tell, but these are the same Olympics that once included “solo synchronized swimming” as a competitive event. Anything is possible if you follow your dreams.
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