Video Games as Olympic Sport? Not Without Clearing These Hurdles

The IOC has some troubling questions about esports

Senior Pan-American Fencing Championships Credit: Devin Manky/Getty Images

In weighing the value of esports and whether they should be considered as potential additions to the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee seems hung-up on some rather pointed questions about the value, morality and organization of professional gaming.

Earlier this month, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told South China Morning Post that the committee was considering whether to add esports to the Olympics.

Reached for comment by Glixel, a spokesperson clarified that the committee is just taking a look at esports from a "general perspective" right now.

That first look has already raised a number of questions, Rachel Rominger, media relations coordinator for the IOC tells Glixel.

"On the one hand, we need to acknowledge the value of the players’ performances," she wrote in reply to Glixel. "It would be ideal, if players are encouraged to take up sport in real life through playing egames, which are a simulation of actual sports. On the other hand, we also recognize that there are a number of e-games which simulate violence and are therefore contrary to the Olympic values."

She added that it's also not clear which organization would represent esports as a whole. Currently, such an entity doesn't exist. In fact, even the variety of different esports - like first-person shooters or fighting games - rarely have singular organizations running things.

"It cannot be determined at this stage if the addition of esports to the Olympic program will ever be considered," she added before offering to answer follow up questions.

Glixel followed-up with a number of questions, which Rominger declined to answer. Among them:

Why look at adding esports at all? The IOC hasn't added Chess, for instance.

The question of violence is also interesting. There are a number of IOC sports that have a direct link to violence or are violent, such as boxing, fencing, shooting. Why would esports be subjected to what appears to be different rules?