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Violent content could hurt esports' bid for the Olympics

Current Olympic Committee will not welcome games about "violence, explosions, and killing"

The possibility of esports being included in the Olympic Games is in doubt, following comments from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach regarding violent content.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Bach plainly suggested that the most popular games in esports do not align with "Olympic values."

"We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people," Bach said. "This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions, and killing. And there were have to draw a clear line."

If that's where the current Olympic committee draws the line, League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: GO and Overwatch would appear to be on the wrong side. Indeed, Bach implied that only franchises like FIFA and NBA2K, which are digital simulations of traditional sports, would be considered.

"So if ever somebody is competing at playing football virtually or playing other sports virtually, this is of high interest," he added. "We hope that, then, these players are really delivering sports performance. If [fans] at the end would even play the sports in the real world, we would even be more happy."

The team behind Paris' bid for the Olympics has raised the possibility of introducing esports to the event in 2024, but any final decision would be taken by the International Olympic Committee.

"These discussions are going on," Bach said of esports at Paris 2024. "It will still take some time because this industry is now shaping itself. It's a successful industry, but it is not yet really established in an organisational way."

Among Bach's other concerns are a lack of industry regulators, the lack of standardised rules around issues like doping, and the fact that esports are commercial products that could theoretically cease to exist based on the health of their parent company.

Nevertheless, the legitimacy of esports grows by the day, alongside the list of countries that legally recognise professional gamers as athletes. The Asian Games will introduce esports to its programme in 2022.

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Matthew Handrahan

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Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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