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Is Esports part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

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Is Esports part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

Is Esports part of the Olympics? Esports is finally part of the Olympics after Tokyo 2020 launched the Olympic Virtual Series, premiering esports worldwide. The series kicked off from May 13 to June 23, featuring competitions split into 5 disciplines: sailing, cycling, rowing, motorsport, and baseball. Although these competitions were not held with the official Olympics, esports has secured their place with traditional sports.

‘Esports definitely has the potential to be in the Olympics’, said Adel Anouche, a “Street Fighter” competitor, ‘it requires a lot of mental strength, endurance, and discipline to perform at such a high level consistently.’

The esports competitions in the series did not contradict the Olympic core values, stated IOC Head Thomas Bach. They promoted the spirit of sports, excellence, and respect like other sports competitions. Bach was positive on esports being Olympic-licensed: ‘The Olympic Virtual Series is a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports.’ 

 

The Olympic Virtual Series and its Relevance

With Covid-19 still threatening world health, the series introduced the digital forum and its benefits in connecting to a wider audience during the pandemic. According to the “Rocket League” tournament’s statistics, a broadcast streamed last week on the Olympic’s site. The broadcast linked to ESL’s Twitch stream, peaking at nearly 300,000 views. The virtuality of non-physical forms of sport fit with the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the IOC’s Digital Strategy. Esports engage with people no matter where they are.

 

The Olympics aims to appeal to the Youth

In a 2020 survey conducted in the U.S., 38 percent of video game players are from the 18 to 34 age demographic, whereas 6 percent are 65 years and older. Since video gaming is popular among the youth, it was also the IOC’s interest to appeal the Olympics to them. Therefore the virtual Olympic events interacted with diverse age groups.

 

A Positive or Negative Turn for Esports?

Partnerships between the IOC, sports federations, and game publishers sparked controversy— The Olympics may fall into a financial pit. Esports may become an epicentre for marketing, undermining the sport itself. For example, the International Cycling union collaborated with Zwift Inc and used their program, Zwift, in the Olympic virtual series. Esports turns into an agglomeration of digital franchises, thus some propose the Olympics has negative effects on esports. Yet, some believe this act of promoting esports by advertising corporations is a win-win situation. This is because it would expose both parties to a greater audience.

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Is Esports part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?’ Do you think esports should be be officially introduced by the olympics governing body? Let us know!

 

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Melody is currently studying English Literature in the University of East Anglia. She has developed a passion for gaming in recent years, and participated in NUEL's Women University Tournament in Winter 2020. She would love to be a esports journalist one day.

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