The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today (March 1) announced details of the Olympic Esports Series 2023, its evolving "global virtual and simulated sports competition."
The format of Olympic Esports Series builds on the IOC’s Olympic Virtual Series established in 2021, with input from the member federations, and this year will culminate in live, in-person finals for the first time.
As previously suggested, the finals will be held at Singapore’s Suntec Centre from June 22 to 25 and will be streamed globally on Olympics.com and Olympic social channels.
The Olympic Virtual Series took place ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and attracted over 250,000 participants from across 100 countries.
Professional and amateur players from around the world are invited to take part in Olympic Esports Series qualification rounds, with entry requirements in line with the current IOC recommendations on the participation of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports.
The initially confirmed games are Tic Tac Bow (archery), WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros (baseball), Chess.com (chess), Zwift (cycling), JustDance (dance), Gran Turismo (motorsport), Virtual Regatta (sailing), Virtual Taekwondo (taekwondo), and Tennis Clash (tennis).
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These are of course sports simulations, rather than significantly more popular esports titles such as League of Legends or Dota 2.
This is in line with previous statements by the IOC, such as those made in 2018 when IOC president Thomas Bach had spoken on the subject during the Asian Games, where soccer game Pro Evolution Soccer featured alongside warfare-based games League of Legends, Clash Royale, and Arena of Valor.
Bach said: “We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination. So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot, therefore, be accepted.”
Those views are not necessarily shared by others in the esports industry.
Fernando Pereira, president of Grow Up eSports, a Portuguese non-profit aimed at growing esports, said at Sportel Asia in 2019: “People want [esports] in the Olympics, it was a demonstration sport at in the Asian Games because they see it as a way to attract a younger audience. But the main problem is game titles – the most-watched contain violence, and the IOC do not want that in their tournaments.
“Are we only going to see Fifa and NBA titles at the Olympics? That is not want gamers want. They want Counter Strike etc.”
Nonetheless, chair of the IOC Esports Liaison Group David Lappartient said at the Olympic Esports Series announcement: “The Olympic movement brings people together in peaceful competition. The Olympic Esports Series 2023 is a continuation of that, with the ambition of creating more spaces to play for both players and fans of elite competition.
“We look forward to witnessing some of the world’s best compete on the global stage, as well as exploring together shared opportunities and lessons, across health and wellbeing, training, and innovation.”