Video gaming will not be included in the next Olympic Games. While sports like skateboarding, baseball, karate, and even rock climbing are on the confirmed list of events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the International Olympic Committee decided that e-sports were too violent to be included in the games. This despite the fact that for the first time ever, e-sports will be officially recognized at the upcoming Asian Games.
According to a report from the BBC, around 320 million people play e-sports worldwide, and by the time the Tokyo games roll around in 2020, competitive video gaming is expected to generate around $1 billion. Some parents have even hired coaches to make their kids better at them. Still, are e-sports even really sports? The IOC didn’t address the issue, nixing gaming instead based entirely on the level of violence.
IOC president Thomas Bach said that games which are just “about killing somebody” are not in keeping “with our Olympic values” and “so-called killer games” have no place in the Olympics.
Interestingly, the debate has been ongoing for several months. In July, the IOC held a forum on e-sports to determine whether they could have a place in the upcoming Olympics. Bach believes that the idea has some merit, but is standing by the notion that the games have to become notably less violent first.
“Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this,” he said before explaining that “blood in video games is the problem.” That rationale obviously has some flaws as basketball players get bloody sometimes because the game is physical. The same goes for surfers, skaters, and hockey players — and all of them get to compete in the games. Maybe it’s not about blood, but rather the fact that an e-sport isn’t actually a physical activity and can’t reasonably be treated as such?