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Esports aiming for gold

China Daily| Updated: June 1, 2023 L M S

Esports' popularity could one day see it shine on the Olympic stage.

As esports gets more recognition and has successfully made its way into the Asian Games, there's been expectation that it would feature at the Olympic Games. However, we might need to wait for that. Esports will not be at the Paris 2024 Olympics. There is still the question of if games that include violence and weapons should be allowed to be at the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, talked about esports at an appearance at the 2018 Asian Games, "We cannot have in the Olympic program a game … promoting violence [and] so-called 'killer games'. They … are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot … be accepted," reported the Independent.

However, the competitive nature of gaming, the skills, reflexes and dedication as well as the team spirit needed to succeed in the competitive industry are all reasons that make esports an increasingly reputable form of competition, one that both professionals and amateurs can take part in and achieve their ambitions.

Double Olympics pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva recognizes the physical efforts of professional gamers. She said to Olympic news website Inside the Games: "…training can be eight hours a day, like a normal athlete, because they have to be physically prepared to sit for eight hours and more in front of the computer to play the game." She added, "Of course, they train their concentration, they train their mental health because only strong athletes can participate."

Some believe that esports might just be what the Olympics needs right now. As the Financial Times notes, "for the Olympics, which suffers from falling TV ratings and an aging viewership, esports can bring in a significant young audience."

That might be why the IOC, while not recognizing esports as part of the major Olympics yet, has provided it its own Olympics event. The inaugural Olympic Esports Series (OES) started on March 1.Professional and amateur players from around the world were invited to take part in qualifying rounds of virtual games.

But instead of featuring some of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, the OES includes virtual versions of archery, baseball, cycling, chess, dance, taekwondo, sailing, motor sports and tennis. The in-person finals will be held at the first ever Olympic Esports Week from June 22 to 25 in Singapore, according to the Olympics official website.

"The first Olympic Esports Week marks an important milestone in our ambition to support the growth of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement," said IOC president Bach.

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