eSports’ 2022 Asian Games medal status put on hold

eSports needs a single international federation before it can be included as a medal sport, according to Olympic Council of Asia director general Husain Al Musallam.

Representative Image: eSports had been expected to make its debut in the Asian Games in 2022.   -  AFP

The inclusion of eSports as an official medal sport for the 2022 Asian Games cannot yet be confirmed, an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) official said on Saturday.

A meeting of the OCA executive committee in Jakarta approved a programme of around 40 sports for the 2022 Asiad in Hangzhou, China, where eSports had been expected to make its full debut. Instead, the OCA ratified all 33 Olympic sports from Tokyo 2020 — with the possibility of adding up to six disciplines from Paris 2024 — plus one sport nominated by each of the OCA’s five regions, and two by the local organising committee.

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OCA director general Husain Al Musallam said eSports, whose competitions are currently organised by a diverse range of entities, needs a single international federation before it can be included as a medal sport.

“eSports is not finally decided to be officially in the programme,” he said on the sidelines of the OCA executive board meeting.

‘Has to be one international sport’

“There needs to be one international federation. Now there are so many international federations for eSports,” Musallam told AFP. “They have to get together to decide one governing body. To be ‘official’ in the programme and not ‘demonstration’ it has to be one international sport.”

The nature of eSports could make that difficult given the millions of dollars invested by individual game creators who then need to control how their product is used and marketed in global competition.

Another huge stumbling block will be ensuring gamers comply with anti-doping regulations. At a first-of-its-kind summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month, eSports leaders met International Olympic Committee (IOC) executives to try to chart a way forward.

Last year, IOC chiefs declared that eSports could now be considered truly “a sport,” but that violent or shooting games could never be considered for inclusion in any future Olympics. “In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of eSports must not infringe on the Olympic values,” they said.

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