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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

IOC Proposes Holding Separate Olympics for Esports

  • The IOC executive board proposed the creation of a separate Olympics.
  • Esports has grown into a billion-dollar industry.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board announced Friday a proposal to make the “Olympic Esports Games.” Members will vote at an IOC session in Paris during this summer’s Game

“This structure must be clearly separated from the organizational and financial model which we apply for the Olympic Games,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. He also said the IOC is “really very excited” by the response of the esports community to a study he commissioned in October into whether this kind of venture could work.

The Olympic stamp of approval comes as esports has quickly grown into a billion-dollar industry. The League of Legends World Championship has sold out Madison Square Garden on multiple nights, and more than $250,000 can be distributed from tournaments in a given year, not to mention lucrative sponsorship deals.

But the industry has also faced financial struggles as of late. Team owners have parted ways with their star players or sold altogether, while viewership, stock prices, and partnerships have fallen.

The IOC first dipped its toe into esports with an esports event in Lausanne, Switzerland, back in 2018, after which it created the Esports Liaison Group. It piloted the Olympic Virtual Series in ’21, and in June ’23, held the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore. The event garnered more than six million views online, according to the IOC.

The IOC said it is already in “advanced discussions” with a possible host for the Esports Games, and a formal announcement should be made soon.

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