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  • Bach: Esports Must Adhere to Olympic Values


    (ATR) The future of the Olympic Games may include esports, Thomas Bach says, but not before video games fit the governance and values required for Olympic inclusion.

    Thomas Bach in Beijing (Beijing 2022/Twitter)
    Bach spoke on the future of esports in the Olympic Movement to the South China Morning Post in an interview during his latest trip to China. As part of the trip Bach visited the Alibaba campus in Hangzhou, as well as Beijing 2022 headquarters.

    For esports to become an Olympic sport it needs to have a recognized governing federation and a single set of rules, Bach says. Currently the lifespan of any video game is too short for it to become an Olympic sport, and the games would have to adhere to Olympic values.

    “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach said to the SCMP, an Alibaba-owned paper. “This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.”

    The Olympic family will have a chance to see esports as a medal event in a Continental Games for the first time at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. What games are included could prove to be an indicator for future Olympic competition.

    Bach said that games for sports already included on the Olympic program could feature in any esports program. For the arrangement to work there must be strict rules for competition as well as doping protocols.

    “So if ever somebody is competing at playing football virtually or playing other sports virtually, this is of high interest,” Bach said. “We hope that, then, these players are really delivering sports performance. If [fans] at the end would even play the sports in the real world, we would even be more happy.”

    Esports' first opportunity to join the Olympic program would be in 2024 for the Paris Olympics. Bid chairman Tony Estanguet told the AP earlier this month the bid is exploring the sport’s youth engagement. For esports to join the Paris 2024 program it would have to be recommended by the organizing committee as an additional sport.
    “These discussions are going on,” Bach added. “It will still take some time because this industry is now shaping itself.”

    Bach takes a selfie with Beijing 2022 staff (Beijing 2022/Twitter)
    Alibaba signed on to be an IOC TOP Sponsor last year, but officially became the cloud services partner this year. To commemorate the deal, Bach and Alibaba head Jack Ma, unveiled a stone plaque at the company’s headquarters. Bach also held a question and answer session with Alibaba employees after the tour.

    Bach then traveled to Beijing where he toured the Beijing 2022 organizing committee headquarters. The headquarters are located in a renovated steel plant in Beijing, which Bach called “worldwide avant-garde.”

    “I’m really excited about this,” Bach said according to Beijing 2022’s twitter. “To see this architecture… [it] is really setting a great example.

    “The preparations for the Olympic Winter Games 2022 are really excellent. The cooperation with the IOC is seamless."

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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