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International Olympic Committee hosts forum to discuss esports

Riots Games CEO hopes forum might lead to esports "being more legitimised the world over"

The campaign for esports to be included in the Olympics has made some headway following the Olympic Esports Forum held in Switzerland over the weekend.

Bringing together over 150 industry stakeholders including Blizzard, Riot Games, the ESL and Epic Games, the Olympic Esports Forum aimed to "build a joint understanding between the esports community and the Olympic movement".

Hosted at the Olympic Museum by Rick Fox, three-time NBA champion and owner of esports organisation Echo Fox, the forum covered all aspects of esports from the athletes and gender equality, through to broadcasting and investment.

As reported by The Esports Observer, Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent said during a panel entitled The World of Esports, that he hopes the forum might lead to esports "being more legitimised the world over".

He said that working with government to help recognise esports as its own discipline, along with creating adequate regulations, could "enable us to really grow".

"One of the big pain points is travel, certain countries really welcome esports athletes, such as the US, you get an athlete visa," Laurent said.

"There are certain territories that are less sophisticated in that regard, and that makes it hard for us to grow the sport in certain areas of the world."

Blizzard Entertainment president and CEO Mike Morhaime said that the industry is "seeing a real inflection point for esports" in recent years.

"Folk that hadn't really been paying attention to the esports phenomenon are now interested," he said.

"So what we have, is that for the first time ESPN will be broadcasting the Overwatch League on prime-time, which we've not really seen before.

"We have sponsors paying attention, it's a very attractive demographic. It's 20 to 40 years younger than most traditional sports. It's early, and I think it is just going to keep growing from here."

Also reported by The Esports Observer, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) have also announced plans to form an Esports Liaison Group to continue engagement between all key stakeholders.

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