The IOC is meeting with esports companies and players in July—is esports one step closer to the Olympics?

The two sides will convene in Lausanne, Switzerland in just over two months.

Photo via DreamHack

The International Olympic Committee plans to meet with esports companies and players at a summit in Lausanne, Switzerland at the end of July to discuss the industry’s inclusion in the Olympics. This is after a rather successful IOC-supported esports event in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February.

At the summit, the IOC will “enter into a dialogue with the gaming industry and the athletes and, in due course, approach the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement again,” according to IOC president Thomas Bach, who was quoted by German news site Sport1.

Bach, who has been the president of the committee since September 2013, praised the esports industry, calling it an “exciting and growing sector” as well as a “phenomenon.” He also stated that esports was not something the Olympics could ignore, according to Sport1. The president was adamant about the type of games he would not be open to including in the Olympics, however.

“We have to draw a very clear red line in this respect and that red line would be e-games which are killer games or where you have promotion of violence or any kind of discrimination as a content… they can never be recognized as part of the Olympic movement,” Bach said to reporters in India last month. “They would be contrary to our values and our principles.”

Bach did not specify which games he was referring to, but one can conclude “killer games” are meant to address Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six: Siege, and other shooter games. Titles such as League of Legends and StarCraft do involve killing, but still have lower ESRB ratings than their first-person-shooter counterparts, which may allow them to be considered for a future slot in the Olympics.

StarCraft was even featured in the IOC-supported event at the $150,000 Intel Extreme Masters tournament. The event took place just days before the 2018 Winter Olympics and was sort of a trial run for esports in the Olympics.

Later this year at the 2018 Asian Games, which will kick off on Aug. 18, esports is designated as a demonstration sport. In 2022, the Asian Games will award medals to esports players.

Although Bach and others have their concerns with the type of games and the stigma that popular esports titles may have, the IOC does not seem to be backing down with their support of esports. In fact, it looks like the Olympics could see the world’s best esports players competing for those international medals sooner rather than later.

About the author

Preston Byers

Associate editor. Co-host of the Ego Chall Podcast. Since discovering esports through the 2013 Call of Duty Championship, Preston has pursued a career in esports and journalism, most notably with Dot Esports. He graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2021.