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The curious case of eSports at the Olympics

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Once eSports started growing, all the strategic channels prioritised the rise & rise of the domain in their newsfeed. The next question was always going to be about the duration of eSports under the limelight before becoming a saturated niche. Well, that question has to wait. Esports is presently being debated vigorously for the radar of Olympics.

Step-by-step evolution

Esports was first introduced to the Olympic scene as a showcase event at Rio 2016. However, many saw this as a one and done deal. That prejudice essentially collapsed with the recently concluded Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Intel took initiative to launch this huge step. Now there could be complaints as to this wasn’t an actual event at the games. You should know that a prelaunch event at the Olympics event on the Olympic Channel is important too and it’s a step in the right direction. Many top names are clamoring for eSports at the Olympics including the likes of Alibaba and German FA. For shouting out loud, the mighty IOC themselves have acknowledged the existence of eSports. In their own words, “As a youthful digital platform we cannot ignore the phenomenon of esports. With the channel after the Games we want to explore the area of esports more deeply. We want to explore this direction. We have now a major player as a top partner of the IOC —- Intel Corp — very much into esports precisely because Intel has a vision of seeing the Games delivered in a new, smarter and more engaging way.”

If current reports hold their ground, 2022 Asian games will host eSports as a medal event. Paris bid team for 2024 announced their undivided interest in hosting eSports as a medal event.

Roadblocks

The inclusion of eSports at Olympics as a medal event would have to go through certain difficulties. These are real-world roadblocks that may not have reflected on other traditional sports in the past. There are terrible comments on eSports not likely exercising skill and physical strain. Tell that to the 250 million eSports enthusiasts on the planet.

At the winter Olympics there was an issue of players from other sports commenting on eSports as not belonging at the centre stage. This writer feels that it’s common jealousy about more mainstream attention being shed on the eSports players. When decision-making brands and top sponsors align to support eSports & its sub-domains, traditional sports would suffer by a great margin.

But none would top the reservations within the community. You read that correct – there are members within the gaming community who would want no part in the Olympics. These guys would stay and perform in a genre of their own apart from the traditional sports categories.

Possibilities

If and when the eSports community overcomes the challenges, the unlimited road of possibilities pops up. For all the grand vision Olympics promises, the charm is slowly devolving. Spectacular fashioned event for many has changed to a feel-good show for some. The introduction of eSports to the Summer Olympics can add wonders to the profile in terms of revenue & brand presence. Olympics for all its glory and history currently need one essence – a lucrative appeal.

The possibility for growth of Olympics is a minor thing compared to the potential positives that eSports can achieve. Esports by its very entry into the Olympics forum will improve the mass appeal & global presence. Markets who are yet to get accustomed to digital gaming will hear about eSports. Markets who have ignored the presence of eSports for various reasons despite their knowledge about it might reconsider their decision. Markets that have knowledge and willingness yet struggling with doubts & fears will definitely get aboard – Olympics have that magic.

Esports as an Olympic event will help the passion and aspirations of millions of youngsters to live their dream. No one can say no to the idea of being an Olympian for their country. That’s stuff your great-grandkids would be proud about.

Esports with its very original colour of competition will bring about rational & functional value to the Olympics arena. This will drive itself for relevant time period and other ambitious sports too to campaign for events of Olympic stature. If eSports explores all these possibilities and gets to move beyond current predictions, then only one thing needs to be said at the end of 2024 Olympics – The Game Has Just Begun.

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