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The IOC has included Esports and virtual gaming in its next Olympic agenda and has decided to work closely with IFs in building a youth-specific pro Esports strategy
The Esports community seems to be in for a treat as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to include Esports and virtual gaming in its next Olympic agenda. This comes close on the heels of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) accepting Esports as an official sport.
The growing popularity of Esports, coupled with the steady increase in the number of gamers every day, has brought this gaming vertical into IOC’s consideration. The committee has decided to encourage the development of virtual sports and further engage with video gaming communities.
The IOC felt the need to create stronger synergies with the virtual sporting domain, while maintaining the core values of Olympics. The IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5 wanted greater participation of the youth on mobilizing the Olympic Movement and active sports participation.
The IOC aims to strengthen the roles and responsibilities of International Sports Federations (IFs) in establishing virtual and simulated forms of sports as a discipline within their regulations and strategies.
The committee feels the need to consider the addition of physical virtual sports in the Olympic Programme in cooperation with the respective IFs.
The committee will have a system in place to launch unique Olympic products and experiences. These will be through virtual and simulated forms of sports, in support of the IOC’s digital engagement strategy. This involves more inline activities by the IOC in the future.
A pro-Esports module would require the IOC to assist local partnerships between sport and video gaming communities. This will encourage the youth to engage in physical activity in line with the Olympic Movement.
The committee wants physical sports to operate in tandem with the virtual gaming world.
In a bid to ensure the physical well-being of virtual gamers, the IOC wants to create Olympic athlete-related online programmes and digital tools. These will be extended to the competitive video gaming community to support their physical and mental well-being.
The global pandemic last year gave a major push to virtual gaming across borders. There has been a 30% spike in gamer engagement during the COVID-19 period.
Similarly, there has been a 75% growth in gaming usage. This has resulted in the industry being pegged at an estimated $159 billion last year.
This growth has been mirrored in virtual sport, where several IFs have leveraged the virtual forms of their respective sports to engage with the youth demographic and hosted their own virtual competitions.
The IOC has clearly pinned its hopes on IFs. It plans to assist them in the development of virtual and simulated forms of their sport. As these virtual sports develop, the roles and responsibilities of IFs around virtual sports will increase.
The committee feels the importance of IFs in ensuring good governance and the need to have necessary regulations around sports simulations.
The youth factor dominating the surge in virtual gaming globally. The IOC wants to improve virtual engagement across platforms in line with its digital strategy.
Elite esports and gaming competitors are relatively new to the highly competitive environment. Thus they have more limited access to resources than athletes in traditional sports.
The IOC recognizes these challenges and aims to adapt various existing tools and resources to support them in different fields. These are gender equality, mental and physical health, competition integrity and career transition.
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