International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says that rapid technological changes within the video game industry will be a big hurdle for esports from making an appearance in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The president said that, according to experts that have met with the IOC, could look completely different in five years.
“This means that they all think that e-games as we know them now, will have disappeared in five, maybe even before five years,” Bach said in a statement when the committee previously held an executive meeting in Tokyo.
According to Bach, that is because by then “virtual reality and augmented reality will play a much more important role and will more or less have taken over technology-wise.” The IOC president says this explains the fact that there is a “clear tendency [why they] say it’s premature to speak about the inclusion of such games into the Olympic program.”
“If you were to include one of these games we know now for ’24, the young generation in ’24 may say, ‘This has been played by my grandfather. What is this?’” he added.
This now adds to the many reasons why the IOC has been somewhat hesitant with their approach to the esports industry thus far.
The IOC previously met with proponents of the esports industry last July in Lausanne, Switzerland for an esports forum that was held in partnership with the Global Association of International Sports Federations. While Bach says they have learned much from the forum, “there are still a number of hurdles to clear.”
“There is agreement [that] we can’t, and we should not, ignore the growth of the egames industry and the interactivity of it for the young generation. That we should engage with this community […] On the other hand, on how to engage, there are many uncertainties,” Bach said.
The president continued that this is “because on the one hand, you have an industry with purely commercial interests, on the other hand, you have a values-based organization like the IOC.”
Aside from conflicts of interest, another thing that has so far been a point of contention is the apparent display of violence in most esports titles, and the IOC’s values aversion of such.
Even so, the influence of esports has continued to cross over into the world of traditional sports despite the IOC’s hesitant stance. Recently, the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games announced that esports will become a medal sport. It will be the first time that such a thing will happen in a sporting event that the IOC sanctions.
The IOC will be one of the bodies that will have a hand in choosing which games will appear in the SEA Games. The issue regarding the depictions of violence in esports will surely be something that will be considered in the selection. Bach, however, mentioned there were fewer problems about sports simulation games in contrast to the other esports titles such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
For now, it seems that the IOC will have much to think about.
“We need more time, we need more dialogue, we need more contact and then to see how we can get these two worlds together,” Bach said.