It’s hard to deny the growth and impact of eSports, but the concept of competitive gaming has taken something of a stride towards the mainstream with a deal that could see gamers receiving Olympic medals.
An agreement between Alisports, the sporting arm of Chinese e-commerce concern Alibaba, and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) will see eSports being introduced as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, with a view to being included as an official event in the following iteration in China in 2022.
The Asian Games are the world’s second largest multi-discipline sporting event, behind only the Olympics, with more than 10,000 athletes competing at the most recent games in South Korea in 2014.
It’s not clear what gaming disciplines will be put to the test, although the OCA has confirmed that players will compete in FIFA 2017 and undisclosed real-time attack and online battle arena games when eSports is introduced at this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan.
The inclusion of eSports in the Asian Games will serve as a high-profile trial run which may see gaming elevated to the status of a full Olympic event in the future.
Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the OCA, commented: “The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports, and we look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with its strength and experience in eSports.”
When the 2016 Olympic Games wrapped in Rio last year, we posed the question of whether eSports belonged on the world stage. What do you think of this latest development?