The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to convene players and representatives from companies in the esports industry for a one-day summit in Lausanne, Switzerland in July.
In an interview with sport1, IOC president Thomas Bach explained that the purpose of this summit is “to enter into a dialogue with the gaming industry and the athletes, and in due course, approach the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement again.”
However, Bach reiterated that the Olympics are not a place to promote games that are too violent or are about killing, putting the possibility of Olympic participation for major esports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive into question.
“Esports is clearly an exciting and growing sector in which millions of young people worldwide regularly engage in. The Olympic movement cannot ignore such a phenomenon by any means,” added Bach.
The IOC previously showed its support for esports through the Intel Extreme Masters Pyeongchang, a showcase Starcraft II tournament held alongside this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It was a cooperative effort between ESL, one of the biggest esports companies in the world, and Intel, IOC’s global technology partner.
Six esports titles will also be making their debut in this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. While the upcoming multi-sport event is recognized by the IOC and is the second-largest even behind only the Olympics, it is organized by a different organization, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
It won’t necessarily pave the way for esports to reach the Olympic Games, but the exposure will go a long way towards achieving token legitimacy from the rest of the sporting world.
However, the IOC cautioned that esports should not “infringe on the Olympic values,” and that recognition would require the establishment of an organization guaranteeing compliance with Olympic rules in esports (e.g. anti-doping, betting manipulation).
Whether the esports industry would comply to such conditions in order to be recognized by one of the biggest sports federations in the world remains to be seen.