International Olympic Committee takes steps to recognise esports
IOC and international sports federation "in a dialogue with the games industry" on esports
Esports' battle for mainstream acceptability has yet another endorsement, this time from the International Olympic Committee.
In a statement following a summit of the IOC, it was announced that esports "could be considered a sporting activity."
According to the IOC, "the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports."
While acceptance comes with certain caveats - esports must not "infringe on the Olympic values" and there must be "an organisation guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement" - the announcement is a huge coup for the rapidly expanding industry.
The decision by the IOC is the latest in what is slowly becoming the prevailing consensus. The first major development came in July 2013 when the US State Department recognised professional League of Legends players as athletes, with a number of other nations following their lead including Finland and the Philippines.
Additionally, the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China will recognise esports as a medal event, and the Paris bid for the 2024 Olympics is considering a programme of esports.
From here the IOC will work alongside the Global Association of International Sports Federations "in a dialogue with the gaming industry and players to explore this area further and to come back to the Olympic Movement stakeholders in due course."
While the IOC has conceded that there is room for esports in the Olympics, there is a notable apathy toward the idea from esports fans.
According to a recent report from Nielsen, only 53% of fans from the four largest markets (UK, France, Germany, and US) consider esports to be an actual sport, and only 28% felt that esports should be included in the Olympics