2020 Tokyo Olympics saw the inclusion of baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.
At the beginning of the year, Thomas Bach, the President of the Internation Olympics Committee reiterated his stance on the entry of Esports in Olympics. Bach said that any video game that encourages any kind of violence will not be a part of the Games as it goes against the ethics of the Games.
“We have a clear red line that we do not want to deal with any game which is contrary to the Olympic values. Any game where violence is glorified or accepted, where you have any kind of discrimination they have nothing to do with the Olympic values,” Bach said.
“This is not about revenue generation, this is about engagement. Our main motivation is to look for ways how we can convince the people playing these games to do the real thing.”
It is not that the IOC is opposed to adding more sports to the Olympics, it is about the values it may carry. As a matter of fact, as many as five sports were recently added to the Games. 2020 Tokyo Olympics saw the inclusion of baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.
To put an end to a long-standing debate over whether Esports is actually a sport, the technical definition of a sport comes into play. Esports can be defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” With the acceptance of this definition, the people who take part in Esports can be called athletes since Cambridge Dictionary defines an athlete as “a person who is very good at sports or physical exercise”.
In a definition surrounded by an “or”, it is important to note that Esports athletes do indulge in physical activities by moving their arm muscles and fingers to control their character or player.
If another aspect of injuries is to be taken into consideration, then even players who compete in Esports go through injuries and recovery time. The strain on the bodies of Esports Athletes is also hard, and the amount of effort, dedication, and sacrifice are the same, if not more or less.
Before delving into whether the Games should give Esports a platform, one needs to address some more skeletons in the closet.
Before thinking ahead into the future and talking about getting Esports in Olympics, one needs to understand the universal rules for Esport. With the series of ongoing investments by foreign organisations in India, one needs to set a few ground rules before diving deep into the complexities of Esports’ inclusion.
If India is to participate and win medals in the Asian Games 2022, the government would be forced to recognise Esport as a sport in the country. As a step ahead, many state ministers have been encouraging esports. In a paper published by Niti Aayog in 2020 online gaming was defined, leaving out Esports. Sports minister, Anurag Thakur has acknowledged the existence of online gaming and esports and the need for regulations around the same.
However, there is still a lack of regulation in this sector, which is a hurdle for both– players and developers.
In light of international recognition and participation in medal events, it will be very interesting to see how would lawmakers define and accept Esports.
Playing Esports at the topmost level takes years of hard work and dedication. Along with that, it takes a lot of mental fitness to accept the hate one could get in an internet generation. The Esport world is full of stories that come from underground, of rising and stepping up to the mark is plenty and impeccable. For many young players, convincing parents about the idea of Esports as a career is a task in itself.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino also said “We can only imagine the possibilities for these games but we must recognise the importance of moving quickly and highlighting this opportunity.”
Licensing income from video games had proved a major revenue stream for FIFA during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva paid tribute to the physical conditioning of gamers.
“They used to train in the gym and training can be eight hours a day, like a normal athlete, because they have to be physically prepared to sit for eight hours and more in front of the computer to play the game,” Isinbayeva said.
“Of course they train their concentration, they train the mental health because only strong mental athletes can participate,” Isinbayeva said