The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will host an open dialog on Jul. 21 in Lausanne between its president Thomas Bach and a number of invited professional esports athletes, as well as representatives of the IESF and AESF esports federations.
The forum will be moderated by Rick Fox, the former Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers player and a founder of his own Echo Fox esports franchise. Other notable figures from Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, ESL, Twitch and more have already confirmed their attendance. The esports side of the talk includes Overwatch players JAKE, Geguri and a retired Amber Dalton.
One would expect the main goal of the talks to be the inclusion of esports into the Olympic program, but that will not be the case. IOC sports director Kit McConnell made that much clear, stating that the talk is “more about the engagement of the two communities”. While the possibility for inclusion of esports in The Paris 2024 Olympics is there, there are still a number of roadblocks in the way of this inclusion, according to Kit McConnell:
For esports to be included in the Olympic program, first of all, we would have to deal with a single, recognized federation or body that represented the whole of the esports community, the same way we deal with FIFA for football, the IAAF for athletics, and so on.
Moreover, the forum will address topics of the esports industry such as governance, media, and investment, with the issue of having no single governing body to partner with like NBA or FOFA sure to feature prominently. Another concern brought up previously by the IOC is the violence and focus on killing in many video games.
That’s why we want to have this forum. To explain why these values are so important to us, how they are reflected in everything we do, including the on-the-field sports competitions, our engagement with the athletes, our engagement with the governing bodies around the Olympics movement, and to understand it from the esports perspective.
This latest news arrives after an event at the Special Olympics took place last week which saw an esports tournament organised, thanks in part to a partnership with Microsoft.