Could eSports end up being included in the 2024 Olympics?
The Olympic Games has always featured the world’s best athletes and some of the world’s best sports and games. Be it running, or European Football, Tennis or Swimming, you can rest assured that the sporting action that you will witness during the Olympics is going to be of the highest world class standards.
The Olympics is a highly coveted event and an Olympic medal is a dream, and considered a life time achievement for any athlete from any discipline.
A new addition to the Olympics, however, has really turned some heads and raised some eye brows the world over. Some people are all for the idea while others think it is simply ludicrous.
Irrespective of whether you feel like the Olympics is just keeping with the times or if or whether you feel like there is no place for video games in the Olympics, it really doesn’t matter because it is happening.
The 2024 Summer Olympics is to be held in Paris, France and it is going to go down in the history books as the first ever Olympics where eSports (gaming) joined the illustrious roster of sports and will be recognized as an official medal event. At this time, there are still a lot of kinks which need to be ironed out and a lot of specs and details that all need to fall into place, but the only thing we know for now is that video games could be a part of the Olympics and also the 2022 Asian Games being hosted in Hangzhou. Exactly which video games are going to be features? Well, these are the details that we need to wait to see unfold with the passing of time.
How would inclusion of eSports help the Olympics?
As you may be wondering about the objective behind this proposal, it has been revealed that Tony Estanguet and other proponents of the idea believe that this will be an effective way to attract a younger, tech savvy generation of viewers to the otherwise globally renowned sporting event.
Is this going to bridge serious interest among the younger generations?
That is another metric which will have to wait and see play out. Tony Estanguet, who happens to be the Olympic bid committee co-President certainly thinks so and it has been confirmed that he is going to be proposing the idea to the International Committee meeting which is scheduled to happen in just a few weeks in Peru.
However, it should be noted that this is not something which is happening completely out of the blue. eSports and gaming has been trying to establish itself in such sporting events for a few years now, and they are also going to be included in the 2018 Asian games which is scheduled to kick off starting mid-August in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
Estanguet is well aware that this push to include eSports is not going to come without strong opposition and criticism and has made statements wherein he has asked that people keep an open mind. The fact of the matter is that the youth are certainly interested in eSports and gaming, if gaming organizations and the Olympics can work together to find some middle ground and a sound working formula, then there should be no reason why eSports should not be included in the Olympics, said Estanguet.
Furthermore, Estanguet and other proponents have not come up with this idea out of nowhere. Statistics show clearly that views and ratings for the Olympics have been steadily decreasing with time when the sample group are younger viewers. In order to address this continuous decline in interest before the Olympics becomes something archaic, proponents are open to accept and eSports into the Olympic games and even take other effective measures to make the Olympics more entertaining for the younger audience.
A sharp decline in viewership among the youth
The previous Olympics which happened in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil supposedly saw a staggering drop of nearly 30 percent among television viewers between the ages of 18 and 34. In fact, even before the inclusion of eSports came into the picture, the Olympic committee already took action to combat this by including event such as BMX and 3 on 3 Basketball to the Tokyo Olympics which will take place in the year 2020.
While the Olympic committee’s efforts to include events into the Olympics which might garner interest from Millennials is understandable and sensible, it can be argued that the decline in viewership is not per se because the Olympics and its roster isn’t appealing to the youth, but also because of a variety of other factors – other entertainment options being a big one.
No shortage of other entertainment options for the youth of today
It is only plausible to realize that back during the 70s, the Olympics were enormously popular because there was really not too much else going on.
However, the day and age that we live in now is a world apart. Not only do the Olympics face serious competition from other televised events which may be happening at the same time as the Olympics, but there is also the internet and other sources of entertainment which the youth may take to in preference over the Olympics.
While this is irrefutable, it still does not warrant not including events which the youth may be interested to into the Olympics.
Taking no action at all is certainly not the answer.
To further support the decision of the committee, statistics have it that a staggering 43 million viewers tuned in for the League of Legends World Championship which transpired recently. League of Legends is one of the more popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Area) games. Not surprisingly, there are also numbers in terms of the age groups of these viewers and it turns out that a massive 81% of them happened to be aged between 18 and 34 as confirmed by Craig Levine, the CEO of ESL. ESL happens to be one of the biggest eSports companies in the world. Levine also said that the growth of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are also largely responsible as solid foundational platforms for eSports which have grown so popular that the Olympics is planning to incorporate such video games.
One of the other arguments against the inclusion is more along the lines of whether or not eSports can really be considered sports at all in the first place. Someone who brought this point up is none other than IOC president Thomas Bach. However, this argument is something which has been around for over a couple of years now. In fact, in 2014, ESPN president had made a similar statement insinuating eSports wasn’t really sports, but then just two years later, the channel succumbed to the amount of viewership they would gain and even launched a dedicated platform exclusively for eSports.
Inclusion is eventually inevitable
Likewise, the Olympics too simply has too much to gain by welcoming eSports onto its roster. Ken Hershman, the CEO of the World eSports Association, is convinced that it is inevitable that eSports is added to Olympics and all other sporting competitions as applicable. The fact is that eSports is only going to get bigger and bigger as the years roll by and this will take more and more attention away from the Olympics and other televised events that will be left with no option but to join forces with eSports associations to make mutually beneficially arrangements for both parties.
The final verdict, however, will only be confirmed post the 2020 Games in Tokyo.