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The Olympics Should Welcome eSports with Open Arms

15 August 2017 12:39

Delve into the Olympic history books from yesteryear, and the traditional track and field athletic events come to the forefront of your mind. The 100m men’s race is always a particular highlight, as is the action that takes place in the swimming pool, velodrome and on the judo mat. Traditionalist Olympic lovers will always feel an extra sense of attachment and love for these types of sports, which have lit up stadiums and countries for many years.

However, in recent times, new sports have been brought into the summer Olympic calendar.

Baseball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing have all been added to the schedule for Tokyo 2020 in three years time. The expansion of Olympic sports is clear for all to see, and whilst some sports have unfortunately seen their budgets cut and participation numbers dwindling, it’s an exciting time for other sports, where the greatest participants will soon be able to compete in their chosen fields on the biggest of stages.

eSports - The Next Olympic Sport?

Recent reports from the likes of The Guardian newspaper have suggested eSports could take its Olympic bow in 2024. It would be an incredible achievement for the likes of Call of Duty, Overwatch and Dota 2 to be represented at the Olympics in just seven years’ time. Given the sport is still very much in its infancy, it represents another significant step forward for the video gaming industry.

Paris is expected to be confirmed as the games’ hosts, and the committee behind the bid to bring the 2024 games to France is reportedly weighing up whether to include eSports in the full Olympic event. They plan to correspond with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about whether gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to eSports professionals in France. eSports will also feature at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, but the Olympics is simply on another scale altogether.

Would it Work?

eSports appeals to a more youthful audience than many other traditional sports, and Olympic inclusion would surely inspire teenagers, as they watch professional players compete for a medal for their country.

If included, eSports would undoubtedly be a huge success at Paris 2024, and a legacy would be created off the back of the games. It would represent an unmissable opportunity for eSports to build on – attracting more players, thanks to the increased exposure, and receiving more sponsorship as a result of bigger live audiences and viewing figures online and on TV.

It is the norm for current tournaments to be streamed on online services such as YouTube and Twitch, and BBC Three recently secured the rights for the Gfinity Elite League Series One, but the Olympics is aired on a free-to-use terrestrial service, which would see eSports broadcast globally to millions of potential new fans.

Recent figures suggest eSports’ global audience grew to a staggering 292 million last year and, with global revenue currently estimated at £357m, eSports is in rude health. Regardless of location, tournaments and championships are currently packed to the rafters with adoring fans eager to catch a glimpse of the action and embrace the full experience eSports has to offer.

Whichever way you look at it, the Olympics should welcome eSports with open arms, and who knows where it could end up over the next ten or twenty years? No one knows at present just how big eSports can eventually become, and participation in such prestigious events like the Olympics will only aid the process of eSports’ growth, whilst also helping the games welcome the next generation of fans into the fold.

Pulished on:
Updated on: 2017-08-18

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