IOC president expresses concerns over esports

Are esports contrary to the rules and values of the Olympics?

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Esports is set to become a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, thanks to a strategic partnership between the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Alisports.

The announcement, once more, sparked discussions about whether esports can be considered a “real” sport.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach was asked about the issue at the Pan American Sports Organization General Assembly, yesterday. And while the Asian Games are recognized by the IOC, Bach showed reservations about esports on the Olympic program.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” Bach told Olympic news publication insidethegames.

He went on highlighting the fact that esports has no recognized world governing body with the necessary authority to guarantee that the Olympic rules and values are monitored and secured.

“I can only give you a very personal remark, but some of these games are contrary to all our values,” Bach said. The 63-year-old German, who heads the IOC since Sept. 2013, admitted that esports is highly attractive among the youth, however.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organization,” he said. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

Bach called the partnership between Alibaba’s sports offshoot, Alisports, and the OCA a “valuable test” for esports at the Olympics.

Some of Bach’s answers demonstrated his obvious lack of knowledge when it comes to esports. The most telling example was his story about meeting with an unnamed esports representative in Silicon Valley early last year, who told him that he was “very proud that since the invention of a game, something like 400,000 cars have been destroyed.”

“Quite frankly, this did not impress me very much,” Bach said.

It should be unnecessary to say, but for the record: destroying cars isn’t an objective in any meaningful esports title, Mr. Bach. So when you say that you have an eye on esports, better take a closer look next time.

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