We have witnessed many new additions to the Olympic Games over the years and the 2020 games, hosted by Tokyo, were no different. In fact, there were no fewer than five new sports added to the 2020 Olympic Games, with baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding the latest sports to be played at the Olympic level.
In addition to the five new sports at the 2020 Olympics, there were fifteen new events within existing sports to be included, with 3×3 basketball, freestyle BMX, madison cycling, and mixed events among those available for participants. With the likes of surfing, skateboarding, and 3×3 basketball among the latest additions, could we see Esports added to the Olympic Games in the future?
Esports At Paris Olympics 2024
The debate over whether players are athletes when competing in Esports events has rumbled on for many years and this may be the overriding factor in determining whether Esports can be included in the Olympic Games. How is it possible to decide if a person competing in an Esports event is an athlete?
Perhaps the best place to begin is with a definition of the word ‘athlete’. A definition from the Cambridge Dictionary, states an athlete is “a person who is very good at sports or physical exercise”.
Taking the last section of the definition and there can be doubt, an Esports player is participating in physical exercise. They are working the muscles in their arms and fingers as they control the characters or vehicles on the screen and this can be extremely tough.
Qualification of Esports As A Sport
Many of the world’s leading Esports players have suffered injuries as a result of their activity and playing the games at a high level, on a regular basis, is a huge strain on the body.
So, in terms of physical exercise, that is a box ticked for Esports players. However, some will say that sitting down in a chair does not constitute physical exercise. Interestingly, there are several events at the Olympic Games during which participants are sitting down. The cycling and BMX events are good examples and competitors are sat or have the option of sitting on a seat when participating in a race. Rowing is another example of an Olympic sport during which the participants are sitting down.
Playing Esports at the highest level also takes a great deal of training and dedication. There are always plenty of good stories surrounding the journey of an athlete leading into the Olympic Games, usually highlighting the dedication, effort, and sacrifices they have made to reach the games.
The same applies to professional Esports competitors, who are putting in hours of practice away from the big events in order to excel at their craft. Some Esports players have been found to train up to 50 hours per week, which is a lot of time.
In terms of seeing Esports at the Olympic Games in the future, there can be little doubt players meet the criteria of an athlete. It will be at the discretion of the International Olympic Committee to bring forward the idea of Esports being an event at future games. The IOC and professional Esports organizations have spoken about the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as a possibility for Esports to make its debut but that now seems unlikely. However, there has been a discussion and that is promising for the future.
And Sweden, officially disassociating – by saying esports is not a sport – with an esports event of a fair size isn’t going to help the cause either.