eSports to become medal event at 2022 Asian Games

The mutli-sport event, the world's second biggest, is embracing competitive video gaming

BY James Dempsey 11:13 Monday 24 April 2017, 11:13 24 Apr 2017

A player taking part at a competitive eSports event in Leipzig in 2016 [Jan Woitas/DPA/PA Images]

While we typically think of multi-sport competitions likes the Olympics or Commonwealth Games as events where the world’s fittest athletes battle it out for glory on the playing field, in the future medals could well be won and lost on a screen as well.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced this week that eSports will officially become a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China.

The OCA has partnered with Alisports, the sports wing of the Chinese online retailing giant Alibaba, to sponsor the event. Both organisations will demonstrate eSport competitions at 2018’s Asian Games in Indonesia, before debuting the competitive events in Hangzhou four years later.

At next year’s demonstration, competitors will take part in three different video game events, including football title FIFA 2017. The remaining two games have yet to be announced, but they will be titles based on the ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’ and ‘Real Time Attack’ gaming genres, meaning games like League of Legends and Warcraft respectively.

Sporting ideologies

While sporting purists might well turn up their noses at the inclusion of video game contests in multi-sporting events, the OCA said its decision was based on the “rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation among the youth.”

Competitive gaming has become an extremely popular event in the past decade, with market research firm Newzoo claiming 201 saw the event generate almost $500m with a global audience of 320m. In South Korea, the International eSports Federation (IESF) has campaigned for the International Olympic Committee to consider eSports for the summer games, with the British government-supported International eGames Committee (IEGG) also backing the move.

First held in 1951 in New Delhi, the Asian Games is a pan-continental sporting event held every four years for athletes from all over Asia. The world’s second largest multi-sport competition after the Olympics, 49 countries have participated in the event’s history.

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