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The International Olympic Committee’s Influence on eSports: Exploring Its Role


Esports is on the rise, but it’s having problems with its image of being a legitimate sport. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seems to be taking an interest in it lately. In fact, it made attempts to include some esports games in the Olympics. While it was only part of a simulation, it meant a lot for the whole esports industry.

So, what can this interest from the IOC mean for esports? Will it mean more opportunities in the field or more regulations that will limit esports?


Esports, short for electronic sports, refers to organized competitive video gaming. But surely there’s a reason why esports have become a global phenomenon, right? It attracted millions of players and fans from around the world, yet its label says nothing official.

But there’s one global committee that takes interest in esports: the IOC. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a non-profit sports organization that handles the Olympic Games. Recently, it said that it recognizes esports as a sport. With that, IOC also mentioned its partnership with the  Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). By doing so, the two organizations can focus on exploring esports and how they can include it.

Are we going to see esports as a category in the Olympic Games soon? We can’t say for sure yet, but we see how the IOC has interest in imagining the scenario. Let’s explore what stance the IOC has on esports, and how they’ll be able to impact this industry soon.



Esports has become increasingly popular over the years, with many calling for it to be recognized as an official Olympic sport. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been hesitant to include it in the Olympic Games.

The history of the IOC’s involvement in eSports

The IOC first acknowledged esports in 2017, recognizing the rapid growth and popularity of the industry. Since then, it has held discussions with various esports organizations and stakeholders to better understand the industry and its potential as an Olympic sport.

The IOC’s official stance on eSports

While the IOC has recognized esports as a sport, it has yet to be included in the Olympic Games. The IOC believes that esports should be compatible with Olympic values and that the sport must have a clear governance structure and a system for ensuring athletes’ rights and welfare.

The IOC’s criteria for considering eSports for Olympic inclusion

The IOC has a set of criteria that must be met for any sport to be considered for inclusion in the Olympic Games. This includes the sport’s popularity, the existence of an international governing body, adherence to the Olympic values, and having a clear and consistent set of rules. Additionally, the sport must not be harmful to the athletes or the public and must comply with the World Anti-Doping Code.



The International Olympic Committee’s involvement in esports has the potential to significantly impact the industry. The IOC’s involvement could bring greater legitimacy and recognition to esports as a legitimate sport. However, the involvement also raises concerns about how esports will be regulated and organized within the framework of the Olympics.

The potential benefits of the IOC’s involvement

It could also bring mainstream attention to the industry. To an extent, it’s going to be helpful for esports athletes to get sponsors and funding. You can imagine any sport getting more traction and so more funding. 

But what makes The Olympics even better is that everyone waits for it. Even those who aren’t into sports know about it and when it’s taking place. It’s also a bastion for different values, like excellence and respect. These things can appear in esports more often because it takes inspiration from The Olympics.

The potential challenges associated with the IOC’s involvement

The IOC’s involvement could bring challenges for the esports industry, including the need for greater regulation and standardization of esports competitions. 

This is one striking challenge the IOC has with esports–its diversity. There’s no esport that defines the whole industry. Rather, there’s a lot of them and many more coming up. Then this problem doesn’t only cover the games, but also the competition formats. While team battle is the most common format, there are many other formats too.

The potential opportunities for collaboration between the IOC and the eSports industry

The IOC’s involvement could also present opportunities for collaboration between the Olympic organization and the esports industry. This could include the development of standards and guidelines for fair play and integrity, as well as the sharing of resources and knowledge between the two organizations. Additionally, the IOC’s involvement could provide a platform for promoting the benefits of esports and engaging more people in physical activity and healthy competition.

Should esports be in the Olympics? Here are the pros and cons.


The IOC’s involvement in specific esports events can shed light on their potential role in the future of esports in the Olympics. Here are two case studies that provide insights into the IOC’s involvement in specific esports events:

The IOC’s involvement in the 2018 Asian Games

The 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, marked the first time that esports were recognized as a medal event. The IOC partnered with the  Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to have six esports games in the event. They are the following:

  • League of Legends 
  • Arena of Valor 
  • Hearthstone 
  • StarCraft II
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2018  
  • Clash Royale 

But the medals awarded in esports didn’t count towards the final scoring. Still, it marked a huge progress with regards to recognizing esports as a sport. 

More so, the IOC and OCA’s involvement made it more legitimate. It was also another step to setting standards for more esports games soon.

The IOC’s involvement in the 2019 European Games

The 2019 European Games held in Minsk, Belarus, also included esports as a demonstration sport. The IOC collaborated with the European Olympic Committees (EOC) to include four esports games in the event: Dota 2, StarCraft II, eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020, and Tekken 7.

Similar to the Asian Games, medals awarded in esports did not count towards the overall medal count of the European Games. However, the involvement of the IOC and the EOC in the event demonstrated a growing acceptance of esports among traditional sports organizations.

The IOC’s involvement in the Olympic Esports Week 2023

The IOC partnered with Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth and Sport Singapore to make this event happen. Under the Singapore National Olympic Committee (SNOC), the Olympic Esports Week 2023 will take place from June 22 to 25, 2023. 

But what’s interesting in this case is that it’s not only going to be a typical esports tournament. It’s also going to be a celebration of the emerging industry’s gradual inclusion to The Olympics. So yes, there will also be panel discussions, technology pitches, and educational seminars in this event.

The implications of the IOC’s involvement in these events for the future of eSports in the Olympics

The involvement of the IOC in these events suggests that esports may have a future in the Olympics. However, the inclusion of esports in the Olympics would require careful consideration of various factors such as standardization of rules and regulations, the selection of appropriate games, and the establishment of a governing body for esports.


The International Olympic Committee’s current stance on esports is still blurry. But it’s also clear that the IOC is largely considering how much it attracts people in the industry. 

More so, the IOC’s involvement in some esports events over the years showed a lot. For one, it showcased that esports could be standardized and aligned with The Olympics’ standards. Second, it gave more traction for esports to reach even more fans from around the world.

So, how much does the IOC impact esports? On the one hand, there’s a larger community for it thanks to the IOC’s efforts in legitimizing esports. But on the other hand, the IOC has very strict regulations. That is to say that only because something works doesn’t mean the IOC should include esports. Another concern is that esports is very diverse, and adding standards to it could ruin that aspect.

Where do we stand on all of this? We’ll say that there’s a good relationship between the IOC and esports. It could be largely beneficial for the latter, but it’s also going to take a lot of compromise. For the IOC, they will need to find ways to standardize many esports but not to the point of ruining it. Then for esports, it needs to find ways to reconcile with the IOC’s criteria. 

We’re very close to seeing esports become a part of The Olympics. Only time will tell what’s really up between the IOC and esports.

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