Esports as a medal sport in 2022 Asian Games faces setback

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has announced that the inclusion of esports as a medal sport is still on hold for the 2022 Asian Games. They had previously stated that esports would be included as a medal sport in the 2022 Asian Games last year, but at a recent meeting in Jakarta has revealed that it hasn’t been fully approved.

According to Esports Observer, OCA Director General Husain Al-Musallam said: “They have to get together to decide one governing body.” Stating that a single international body was needed to make esports “official”. The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach had shared similar sentiments, in a statement in 2017: “We do not see an organisation or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The varied nature of esports itself is a difficult problem to tackle, with multiple games ranging in popularity and developer support, there is no single game that encapsulates the entire industry. While sports like fencing and ice hockey have been at every Olympic Games, an esport title could very well drop completely out of the spotlight within four years. The sustainability of a single esport title is still up for debate and while games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 have been widely popular before their latest iteration, will the IOC be receptive to being beholden to the developer’s whim the next time they decide to end support for a title to work on the sequel?

There is still a silver lining for Olympic hopefuls, however, as the 2018 Asian Games will still be carrying out a demonstration sport of six esport titles: Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer and Starcraft II will be played from August 26th to September 1st at the BritAma Arena in Jakarta, Indonesia. If these prove to be successful, perhaps the IOC and OCA will reconsider their hesitation and help facilitate an international esports organisation.

Esports Insider says: While esports being included in the Olympic Games would be a significant milestone in the industry’s history, it is not a necessity for its legitimacy. The concept of esports itself is wildly divorced from traditional sports to the point that attempting to fit it into the same mould could prove troublesome. There are still many hurdles to clear before esports makes its official debut into the Olympics, and many questions that need to be answered along the way.

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