Paris 2024 plays down eSports 'demonstration' talks
Paris 2024, the organising committee for the Olympic Games in that year, has sought to play down a suggestion that eSports might be included as a ‘demonstration’ event at the games.
Paris 2024 said: “Paris 2024 works with the IOC and the IF [international federation] to finalise the sport programme by the end of 2020. So far nothing has been decided about eSports in relation with Paris 2024.”
Leopold Chung, acting secretary general of the International e-Sports Federation, had earlier told the UK's Press Association: “IESF is in conversation with Paris City to promote eSports momentum, and if possible, to support for eSports to be included to take part in the Paris 2024 Olympics as a cultural event or demonstration event.”
However, Chung admitted: “"Nothing has been decided or confirmed concerning eSports integration to the 2024 Olympics. There are procedures which must be conducted, and consensus with various stakeholders is necessary, most importantly with the IOC.”
Official demonstration sports at the Olympics were discontinued after the 1992 games in Barcelona, albeit organisers of the Beijing 2008 Olympics received permission from the IOC to run a wushu competition in parallel with the games, and two eSports competitions were also held in PyeongChang ahead of this year’s winter Olympic Games, as part of a tie-up between the IOC and TOP sponsor Intel, the computer chip giant.
In addition, Intel delivered interactive gaming experiences and demonstrations of the PyeongChang video game at the Olympic Village.
eSports are due to make an appearance as a demonstration event at this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta, and to be included as a medal event at the 2022 games in Hangzhou, China.
Chung told Reuters: “Paris would one day like to become an eSports hub for Europe. There are great engagement numbers, great fan numbers who live in France and especially in Paris, who would definitely want to come to an eSports game.”
In October last year, an Olympic Summit, comprising ‘leading representatives of the Olympic Movement’, confirmed that eSports can “be considered as a sporting activity,” an apparent step towards eSports being included in a future Olympic Games.
The summit said of eSports: “Competitive ‘eSports’ could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.
“In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of ‘eSports’ must not infringe on the Olympic values.”
Earlier, Thomas Bach, the IOC president, had said: “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people. This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions, and killing. And there were have to draw a clear line.”
However, Bach was more positive about sport-based computer games such as the Fifa franchise and NBA2K, saying: “So if ever somebody is competing at playing football virtually or playing other sports virtually, this is of high interest. We hope that, then, these players are really delivering sports performance. If [fans] at the end would even play the sports in the real world, we would even be more happy.”