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eSports Now Recognized as 2nd-Level Olympic Sport

January 28, 2015 eSports Inquirer

What seemed to be good news for the eSports community drew negative feedback from gamers and fans of the competitive gaming scene.

Yesterday, the Korean eSport Association (KeSPA) was able to push for the accreditation of eSports as a 2nd-level Olympic sport by the  Korean Olympic Committee (KOC).

The decision was made by the Korea Sports Council’s board of directors during a conference at the Seoul Olympic Parktel yesterday, Jan. 27, 2015.

During the conference, KeSPA was one of four member organizations who ratified their affiliation to the KOC.

With its inclusion to the 57-member organization, eSports — through KeSPA — has been officially recognized as a 2nd-level sport in the Olympic category, alongside other competitions such as Chess, Automobile Racing, Polo and Cheerleading.

The recognition by the KOC will serve as an endorsement to the larger International Olympic Committee (IOC), which oversees the inclusion and exclusion of sporting events in the Olympics.

For months, gaming organizations and owners of popular eSports titles such as Blizzard and Riot have made public comments in South Korea about the possibility of video games and eSports titles being recognized as Olympic sports. With KeSPA’s recognition by the KOC, the likelihood of such video games being included during the Summer Olympics has increased.

Still, sources in South Korea has reiterated that the recognition as a 2nd-level Olympic sport for video games does not entail that games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 or First-Person Shooters will be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Further details, such as which eSports titles were being considered for inclusion in the Olympics, were not released to the media as of press time.

Gamers push back

On social media, gamers pushed back on the possibility of seeing video games in the Olympics, stating that eSports competitions need not be showcased next to feats of physical prowess that embody the spirit of the Olympics.

On popular social media sharing site Reddit, League of Legends fans and players lamented the move by KeSPA, stating that the inclusion of eSports into the Olympics is problematic, owing to the multitude of eSports titles currently in the market.

User daydriem wrote, “Why is this a thing? E-Sports is not one single discipline, how would that even work? I am all on board for having a separate e-olympics, but adding e-sports to the olympics seems like the IOC is desperate for some ‘youth infusion’.”

“They must be unhappy with their image as it is. But what would you even count as e-sport? Is it league? Starcraft? And consider that the olympics are only every 4 years. Some games don’t even have a lifespan that long!”

Last year, ESPN president John Skipper gave similar views when asked if ESPN will start covering eSports competitions on their channel. Skipper was quoted, saying that “It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.”

Last July 21, ESPN 3 covered the pregame show for the The International, Dota 2’s largest tournament and the record-holder for the single largest prize purse for a video game tournament valuing at $10.9 million.

According to Valve Software, who owns the rights to Dota 2, more than 20 million people tuned in to watch The International 4 over video game streaming sites online, on television and on DotaTV. — with a report from John Paolo “Brightroar” Bago