Paris open to eSports on 2024 Olympic programme

The 2024 Olympic Games is expected to be awarded to Paris.
The 2024 Olympic Games is expected to be awarded to Paris.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • With about a month to go before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to award the 2024 Games to Paris, Olympic bid committee officials in the French capital are wasting no time planning the events schedule.

On Tuesday, the co-president of the committee, Tony Estanguet, told the Associated Press (AP) that he is mulling the addition of video gaming to the agenda. Known as eSports, competitive video gaming has entered the mainstream.

For proof, one need only turn on ESPN. In recent years, the sports network has begun to air major video game tournaments, which often offer millions of dollars in prizes.

With an audience of eSports fans expected to reach 145 million people this year, per data gathered by Fortune, Olympic officials could seize a share of these viewers as well.

"We have to look at (eSports) because we can't say, 'It's not us. It's not about Olympics'," Estanguet told the AP. "The youth, yes they are interested in eSports and this kind of thing.

"Let's look at it. Let's meet them. Let's try if we can find some bridges."

He did not offer further details about which games might compose medal events, but there is already a precedent for adding eSports to major sporting competitions.

It will make its debut as an exhibition event at the multi-sport Asian Games next year before being adding to its official programme in 2022.

To add any new sport to Paris 2024, however, French officials would have to get the support of the IOC, which could prove a hurdle. In April, IOC President Thomas Bach did not sound convinced that eSports would fit in at the Olympics.

"We are not yet 100 per cent clear whether eSports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport," Bach told Inside the Games.

"We do not see an organisation or a structure that will give us confidence or guarantee that, in this area, the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Paris open to eSports on 2024 Olympic programme'. Print Edition | Subscribe