International Olympic Committee speaks out in favor of Esports

Last Friday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously adopted the “Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5” as a new roadmap to 2025. At the 137th Plenary Session, the IOC made the recommendation to promote e-sports.

IOC President Thomas Bach presented the “Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5” [page in English] and said the Corona crisis had fundamentally changed the world. It will never be the same. This has far-reaching social, financial, economic and political consequences.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for organizing and overseeing the Olympic Games. The IOC was founded on June 23, 1894, two years before the dawn of the modern era of the Olympic Games in Athens.

Affiliated to the IOC at the level of the individual countries are the national Olympic committees. In Germany, this is the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).

In light of this, the ICO had launched an extensive discussion to develop a vision for the future. In the process, he said, five broad trends have emerged that the IOC, along with many other social opinion leaders, sees as critical.

These five trends are solidarity, digitalization, sustainability, credibility, and economic and financial resilience. Based on this, he said, 15 recommendations were developed for the “Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5” together with all stakeholders in the Olympic Movement. One of the leading portals regrets the decision.

Promotion of e-sports recommended by Olympic Movement

One of the recommendations includes promoting the development of virtual sports and further involvement in video game communities. Item nine of the agenda states thus:

Taking into account youth affinity for video games and digital entertainment, creating unique Olympic products and experiences through virtual sports will increase engagement with people. This is in line with the IOC’s digital strategy. The goal of this direct engagement is to promote sports participation and Olympic values with a particular focus on youth.

The agenda mentions virtual sports such as soccer, but also competitive games such as League of Legends. National sports federations are to be encouraged to develop their sports in the area of e-sports as well.

So far, e-sports players have had limited access to available resources compared to traditional athletes. The IOC is aware of this and aims to provide support to e-sports athletes in areas such as gender equality and physical and mental health.

What this might look like is not stated in the agenda. It therefore remains to be seen whether the DOSB will change its stance on e-sports in light of the IOC’s clear statement. As recently as 2018, the DOSB had stated that e-sports “do not fit under the umbrella of the DOSB.” Stronger promotion and development as well as recognition of e-sports in Germany is now likely to depend on how the DOSB reacts to the new agenda.