If you were among those hoping that Olympic esports would be a thing sometime in the near future, then the president of the International Olympics Committee has just dashed those hopes on the rocks. The IOC’s Thomas Bach has stated in no uncertain terms that esports will not be an Olympic-level event, citing “killer games” as the rationale for his position.
Bach’s stance was made plain during the Asian Games this past Saturday when he told the Associated Press that esports use violent games as its primary location for competition, which goes against core messaging of the Olympic Games themselves.
“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” said Bach. “If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”
Bach also addressed the commonly raised argument that combat sports such as fencing are Olympic events, claiming that these are a “civilized expression” of a fight between two people.
That said, the Asian Games in question were staging esports as a demonstration event, so perhaps further down the line Bach’s mind could be changed. That said, it would appear that the current crop of popular esports titles focus too much on violence for the IOC’s tastes to be considered for the Games near-term.
With respect to Mr. Bach, he’s taking too narrow of a view of what games could work as esports. There are a number of fighting games that are far too cartoon-like to be taken as serious expressions of violence, as well as games like Rocket League that are even more harmless in terms of their violence level.