Illustration by Fintan O’Sullivan
Since the modern Olympics have started in 1896, they have been a worldwide event and celebration of each country’s athletes and sports. New sports are constantly being added to the list of sports at the Olympics, such as diving in the 1904 Olympics and badminton in 1972. Sport climbing, skateboarding, karate, surfing, baseball and softball will also all make their debut in the 2020 Olympics. Now, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering having electronic sports (eSports) at the upcoming summer Olympics in 2024, possibly even in 2020.
eSports are competitive online video games that, like other sports, are played, often on teams, against other players. There are tournaments as well, where the games are projected on large screens for the audience at the stadium as well as streamed for at-home viewers to watch players’ avatars go through the animated challenges and fights of the game. In contrast to other sports, eSports don’t consist of one game in particular, but rather an assortment of different computer games.
The process of becoming an Olympic sport starts with being recognized as a sport by the IOC, which requires an overarching organization that oversees the sport, such as FIFA for soccer. eSports has started to create an organization that may qualify as such, the World eSports Association, a company created by bringing together other important eSport teams and leagues.
Even if eSports get IOC recognition, many people are still debating whether eSports should count as a sport. eSports don’t require the same physical exertion or prowess that other sports require. Some also feel the structure of eSports and their tournaments aren’t as organized as other sports, and that this will be important to be a part of events like the Olympics.
Others argue that while eSports don’t focus on physical strength, mental strength is important to winning games, as is strategy, quick reflexes, agility and multitasking. eSports can already claim similar devotion and support from fans, especially from a younger audience, as other sports do.
There is still a lot to be done before eSports may be able to become an Olympic sport, but one thing’s for sure: as technology becomes more advanced, it will continue to take over our lives, and it’s hard to imagine that the Olympics will be an exception.