IOC president announces plans to create Olympic Esports Games

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), announced on Saturday in Mumbai that they are considering the setup of Olympic Esports Games.

His comments came during the inauguration of the 141st IOC session held in Mumbai, India.

Bach declared, “I have directed our newly formed IOC Esports Commission to deliberate on the establishment of the Olympic Esports Games.”

He mentioned that since 2018, the IOC has been actively involved with esports, acknowledging the global population of three billion esports players and gamers.

“We opted for a strategy that enables our active participation in esports while respecting the values that have been our guiding principles for over a century,” Bach stated.

He further added, “In regards to esports, these values serve as our unmistakable red line which we will not surpass. It’s assuring to see our firm stand garnering increasing respect within the esports community. One of the prime publishers even modified their popular game to completely align with our Olympic values – transitioning players to aim at targets, not individuals.”

The IOC’s initial venture with esports was through the conduct of the Esports Forum in Lausanne in 2018. In 2021, they devised the Olympic Virtual Series and subsequently, conducted the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore earlier this year.

“The events in Singapore demonstrated the efficacy of our comprehensive approach—enabling successful collaboration between the Olympic and esports communities,” Bach noted.

The Olympic Esports Week’s exhilarating live finals, attracting over six million views across all platforms, were one of the key highlights. According to IOC data, 75 per cent of viewership came from the 13 to 34 years age group.

“This initial success is indeed promising, yet it’s just the beginning. Like every sport, the real challenge still lies ahead, despite a promising start,” Bach pointed out.

Bach further broached the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) in his discourse: “The continued growth of digital technology, especially AI, is critical to our success. Hence, our Olympic Agenda 2020 directive to ‘adapt or perish’, becomes even more pressing.”

He stressed the need for a shift in mindset within the Olympic Movement to capitalise on these opportunities.

“Young people view the world differently. They are leading digital lives today. Ignoring their outlook poses a threat to our future. We need to empower them to steer us with their youthful perspective,” he emphasised.

“We must conduct a comprehensive review of AI-related opportunities and risks, and act promptly. I’m pleased to share that this task is already in progress. Should things advance favorably, Paris may see the initial impact of these efforts.”

The 141st IOC session will continue until Tuesday.

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