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Study Says Sports Execs Against Esports in Olympics

Mitch Reames

A recent study commissioned by audit company PwC indicated that 57% of sports industry executives oppose esports inclusion in the Olympics.

Fans enjoying CS:GO at FaceIt Major at The SSE Arena, Wembley (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Fans enjoying CS:GO at FaceIt Major at The SSE Arena, Wembley (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

This study comes on the heels of an Esports Forum held at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland last July. At the time, the two main concerns for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were violence in games and the lack of an overarching regulating body.

Those concerns were echoed in the results of this study. 26.7% of respondents said, “esports must unify under a single governing body.” 28% of respondents said esports shouldn’t join because esports aren’t sports and 29% said esports should grow independently from the Olympics.

Only 10.4% said esports should join the Olympics “as soon as possible,” and 6% said they didn’t know or abstained from voting.

In early September, IOC President Thomas Bach said that esports couldn’t be included in the Olympics until violence is removed, but that didn’t seem to be a concern for the sports executives polled here.

Here is a much longer look at the pros and cons of esports in the Olympics, but some key points bear repeating:

  1. The Olympics may need esports more than esports need the Olympics. Esports is growing at a staggering rate and, while having video games in the Olympics would be a cool moment, it wouldn’t change esports current ascension.
  2. The Olympics and IOC don’t have a great track record. Events have been marred by scandal with FBI investigations leading to arrests of top Olympics officials. Truly, esports inclusion in the Olympics may be more trouble than it is worth.
  3. Esports aren’t physical in the same way sports are, and that’s okay. Esports are digital sports, but if the Olympics wants to stay dedicated to physical sports that’s a reasonable decision and easily defended. If anything, esports should have its own event every four years similar to the Olympics were countries send their best to compete in a wide variety of esports.
  4. Violence in games is an overblown issue. Boxing – a sport that regularly leaves competitors bloody and has been linked to head trauma – has been an Olympic sport since 1904. Playing a simulated war simulation is much further detached from real-world violence than literally getting in a fistfight.