In an interview with the South China Morning Post, president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach explained the Games had recently made a push to bring in new sports that appeal to millennials, such as skateboarding and surfing.
Given the recent rise of esports with young people – a demographic the Olympics has been losing in recent years – it makes sense that the committee might consider bringing them to the Games as well. However, despite the popularity, it’s currently being cautious about making the jump.
“We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach said. “This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.”
The president certainly has a point. A lot of popular esports have some form of violence as a main game mechanic. Currently a lot of the top esport games are either fighters or first person shooters. The latter especially is not exactly in line with the Games’ initiative of bringing the world’s countries together for a week of celebration and sport.
That doesn’t discredit esport games more in line with the “Olympic values,” or video games closer to games already in the Olympics, though.
“So if ever somebody is competing at playing football virtually or playing other sports virtually, this is of high interest,” Bach said. “We hope that, then, these players are really delivering sports performance.”
Despite these hesitations, the committee is certainly talking about bringing esports to the Games, perhaps even to the 2024 Paris Olympics, though Bach says it’s too early to say anything definitive.
“These discussions are going on. It will still take some time because this industry is now shaping itself,” he added. “It’s a successful industry, but it is not yet really established in an organizational way. … You have to have somebody who is guaranteeing you that these athletes doing video sports games are not doped, that they are following technical rules, that they are respecting each other.”
If it can make it work, esports could be a lucrative addition for the Olympics. The esports industry has seen a meteoric rise in the past decade, making an estimated $500 million in total revenue in 2016.