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Esports likely to debut at 2024 Los Angeles Olympics

A source close to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed to Sportskeeda that an official bid has been placed by LA 2024.

News 13 Nov 2016, 11:59 IST
Esports has been garnering millions of viewers on a consistent basis

Over the past decade, competitive video gaming popularly known as esports has transcended the level of a small interpersonal activity and spiraled into a worldwide movement, which is garnering millions of spectators every second. The prize pools of such tournaments vary from anywhere between $ 1 million to $ 20 million, highlighting the sheer number of participants trying to perfect their craft, like in every other sport. However, in a move that can bring mainstream legitimacy to the sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is contemplating on including esports at the 2024 edition in Los Angeles.

A group named LA 2024 has officially organised a bid, keeping the IOC in knowledge. LA 2024 Committee chairman Casey Wasserman told Sportskeeda, “Our intial atalks with the IOC indicated that they are more than interested in staying at the cutting edge of youth digital entertainment. Esports or competitive video gaming has been consistently getting more participation and viewership than most sport within the Olympic spectrum. Los Angeles as a city is always imagining what’s next be it technology or sport and this is the next step forward.”

A source within the IOC told Sportskeeda, “Sadly, Rio saw a decrease in viewership between the 18 to 27 age category, which is a big loss for sport in the world. Our goal is to meet whichever sport is upto the competitive criteria and how much the youth is indulging in it. We are very much aware of the LA 2024 committee and are reviewing their requests accordingly.”

The International esports Federation (IESF) has already submitted an official bid with the IOC to garner them legitimacy as early as 2018. Hence, the next meaningful step is to look for a spot at the Olympics. The 2016 League of Legends (LoL) World Championships saw 18 million concurrent viewers online, along with 21,000 people attending the even in the Staples Center, Los Angeles. Wasserman added, “Apart from esports, we are also looking to harnessing new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to promote a healthy lifestyle among budding athletes.” 

According to sources, LoL, Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), Counter Strike Global Offensive (CSGO), FIFA, Call of Duty (CoD) and Hearthstone are likely to be a part of the inaugural edition. Unlike the current esports scenario, both the IESF and LA 2024 committee is attempting to create co-ed ecosystem, instead of separate male and female tournaments. If this were to happen, esports would be only the second sport after Equestrian to have co-ed participation.

From an Indian perspective, there is no proper governing body for the sport in India, despite widespread competitions being held across the country.

Professional Indian CSGO veteran, Ankit Panth, who plies his trade for Team Brutality said, “I think it will have a huge effect on the Indian Esports system as a whole. Our only concern at the moment is to get parental support so if this happens we can proudly show our parents that this is what we play and it's in the Olympics. Maybe that would change their perception towards computer gaming and who knows if they start supporting you with everything once they see this on the Olympics platform. If this happens you won't see just one Team Brutality, you will see many other Professional Esport teams competing. This will mainly help to convince Indian parents understand that gaming is not gambling it is as Bas Cricket, Soccer, Badminton etc. Once anything goes at that major scale we are definitely confident an Indian team will not be far away from achieving a gold medal.”

The IOC is expected to take a decision on the matter by 2020.

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