August 29, 2018 / 11:00 AM / 21 days ago

Olympic a distant dream despite Asiad boost: esports chief

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Esports’ Olympic inclusion remains a distant dream despite its successful Asian Games debut as a demonstration sport in Jakarta, the game’s continental chief said on Wednesday.

Last November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized esports as a sporting activity and it is set to be a full medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

“Asian Games under our belt, we’re so looking forward to what we are going to do in the next year or so,” president of Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) Kenneth Fok told reporters.

“Many are asking whether it would be included in the Olympics. Simple answer is - I don’t know. It is really upto the Olympic Committee and the society to judge.”

IOC president Thomas Bach said in April that esports with violent or discriminatory content cannot be considered for Olympics.

Three months later, the governing body, grappling with an ageing audience and the waning appeal of several traditional Olympic sports, hosted an esport forum at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

“There needs to be a give-and-take between the two worlds since no one side will easily convince the other to completely change their concepts and ideals...” Fok said.

“I never know where we’ll be in four years’ time. I didn’t know I’ll be here four years ago when I was at Incheon Games.

“Four years is a long time in the world of technology. All we do is we work hard together and take one step at a time.”

The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) is in talks with organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympics about incorporating the discipline as a demonstration sport at the Games.

Fok said Southeast Asian Games organizers have also agreed in principle to include esports as a medal event in next year’s edition in the Philippines.

“We’ll take it one step at a time, to grow esports according to Olympic principles and ideals,” Fok said.

AESF vice president Lokesh Suji said the Asiad had given the gamers a dignified identity.

“This inclusion has converted a gamer into an athlete. Their accreditation card identifies them as ‘athlete’.

“Prior to that, they were called gamers, or pro-gamers and what not. That’s a transformation.”

The AESF officials’ attention was drawn to the killing of two competitors by a gamer at a Jacksonville video game tournament on Sunday.

They found it unfair to link such cases with video games.

“Esports or gaming is largely focused in China, Korea and southeast Asia but you never come across this kind of episode in this part of the world,” Suji said.

“It’s really sad that every time something happens in the U.S., everybody starts blaming video games. It’s the bigger issue of gun control.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Jakarta; editing by Pritha Sarkar

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