In 2021, the International Olympic Committee launched the Olympic Virtual Series as their first tentative step into professional gaming. It was a huge step for esport, and an even bigger step for the Olympic Games as organising committees continue to expand the competition. The Paris organising committee even confirmed that surfing, skateboarding and breakdancing would feature at the 2024 games to ‘reflect the urbanisation trend of sports’.
More recently, the Brisbane Olympic coordination commission announced that 2032 could be the year that esport becomes a true part of the Olympic Games. Each year, the host nation is allowed to suggest new events, as a one-off or permanent additions to the games. Could 2032 be the year that esport joins the official roster?
It would hardly be the first time the Olympics went through a massive shift. After all, the Olympics have a history longer than many nations. Starting in ancient Greece, they’ve gone through any number of forms and alterations over the millennia. Modern viewers wouldn’t recognise the Games of only a century ago, let alone the ancient games, where athletes competed entirely in the buff!
With such a long history, is adding esports to the Games that big of a change? If esports are the ‘games’ of the generation, then adding them to the Olympic and/or Paralympic Games could be seen as the tradition adapting to the new era. But does esport fit the mould, and does the global esport community even want to become part of the Olympics?
We have questions. Does highlighting esports to the Olympic audience have benefits for the next generation of pros? Would an Olympic gold medallist League of Legends player have more clout than those who’ve won an Olympic or Paralympic Good medal? Who governs the esport competition? Which game would they play? Is there a male/female team and Olympic/Paralympic split, or is it a completely inclusive competition? Would the audiences of traditional sports even have a mind to tune in? Or is this simply a institution fighting to stay relevant 3,000 years after its inception?
They’re fascinating questions. Worth considering. We’ll be discussing all of these and more at PAX Australia this weekend in a panel titled Gold Medal Gaming: Esport’s Olympic Future.
Join Pentanet founder Stephen Cornish along with an expert panel made up of Paralympic gold medallist and former pro esports player Rowan Crothers OAM, Game Legal principal lawyer Mat Jessup, and RMIT Esports Researcher Dr. Emma Witkowski when they discuss the topic at the PAX Galah Theatre on Saturday at 10:30am at Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. We can’t wait to see you there.