IOC President Tosses Shade At Including eSports In Olympics Over Concerns About Violence And Doping

from the facepalm dept

You will recall that a few weeks back we discussed the Paris Olympic Committee’s open attitude towards looking at eSports for inclusion in the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games. This refreshing stance from an Olympic committee was a welcome step in the eSports trend, although it came with no promises taht we would actually see eSports in Paris seven years from now. The IOC, as always, would have the final say, and we all knew the massive headwind eSports would face with the grandpappy Olympic committee: eSports aren’t real sports. Hell, I’m sure many advocates for competitive gaming were already gearing up to fight that fight.

Unfortunately, it looks like the IOC is likely to turn its nose up at eSports for entirely different and far, far more stupid reasons. The first of those dumb reasons, according to IOC President Thomas Bach, will indeed have a familiar ring to gamers.

“We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach told the South China Morning Post. “This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.”

The Kotaku piece points out that Bach himself won the gold medal in 1976 for fencing. While nobody would want to make the claim that competitive fencing is violent, are we really to believe that fencing is less a simulacrum for violence than a video game? Not to mention that this blanket statement that video games are about violence at their core is simply wrong, even on the competitive eSports level. Many games of course include violence. But some do not. Bach himself went on to half-heartedly acknowledge this with a nod towards sports simluations that could perhaps still be included, but the very focus on violence is frustratingly dumb. After all, boxing, judo, karate and wrestling have been or are featured Olympic events, and all of them are clearly more “violent” than video games. And that sets aside sports like water polo, which are known to be physically brutal.

But violent or no, eSports athletes may find themselves not included in the Olympics over an even more laughable concern: doping.

Bach also pointed out that the esports industry remains an under-regulated space compared to traditional sports: “You have to have somebody who is guaranteeing you that these athletes doing video sports games are not doped, that they are following technical rules, that they are respecting each other.”

Okay, stop it. Nobody would claim that eSports is without its drug issues, but the IOC of all organizations keeping it out of the Games over doping concerns is as farcical as it gets. The IOC would tell you, I’m sure, that it is opposite eSports in being one of if not the most regulated sporting event on the planet, and yet doping and PEDs are everywhere in the Olympics. The IOC and its event are no paragon of virtue when it comes to performance enhancing drugs. Listing that as a concern makes this whole thing seem like a joke.

So what is this pushback actually about? Likely money, as with all things the IOC. If it felt that eSports being included would be a major money-maker for the IOC, these concerns would melt away faster than a Usain Bolt dash. Once eSports reaches a certain popularity threshhold, which the trend seems to indicate is likely, they’ll get their Olympic bid. It just might not be in 2024.

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Comments on “IOC President Tosses Shade At Including eSports In Olympics Over Concerns About Violence And Doping”

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37 Comments
Machin Shin says:

Re: Re:

Really kind of depends on the kind of event. Weed in the right amounts could be performance-enhancing. Rifle shooting for example, your trying to be steady and in control, something that is hard to do if your all hyped up. A little weed could easily give you an advantage by calming your nerves. Same kind of thing for alcohol. On the flip side of that caffeine could help you in other events. Caffeine has been shown to give people a short term boost in strength for example.

Anonmylous says:

Huh?

Well if the IOC doesn’t want them why doesn’t some else just start their own Digital Olympi-oh… yeah… trademarks and copyright enforced to an insane degree on things that should be eligible for neither.

Still, it’d be a lot easier to watch and much cheaper for cities to host! You just need to get Mt Dew and Cheetos as official sponsors, spend 3/4 of the budget on deodorant, and find a mom in each host country with a basement big enough to fit everyone! /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Violence and doping concerns aside, gamers are not olympians and gaming is not an olympic sport. I say this as a lifelong gamer (minimum 30 hours per week spent gaming) and one who plays competitive shooters. This simply isn’t “olympic”.

eSports also don’t need the IOC to validate it; Competitions and events will continue to grow entirely separate from the olympic games without getting all gummed up with IOC bullshit. I’m glad eSports aren’t getting sullied by that corrupt committee. Better off without it.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I might agree, but a lot of the olympic events aren’t olympic. Almost none of them are if you go by actual Olympic (and related) games tradition. And some contests are so weirdly niche and removed from reality that i find them a bit bizarre if i think about them.

But no, electronic gaming doesn’t need validation from the IOC. In fact, i suspect there may be unintended consequences of making “eSports” Olympic competitions. (Maybe good consequences as well, but bad consequences seem to make up the preponderance.)

YaTOG says:

Fuck the IOC

Time for the IOC to be taken out behind the woodshed and spanked like the spoiled little brats that they are.

When they stop their pedantic pandering for millions if not billions of spend by hosting countries that do nothing for the country except put them deeper in dept.

To think that the IOC thinks they own the Olympics and all things branded Olympic is also a fucking joke.

The Olympics have been around on and off for centuries.

The IOC is about making the IOC rich, nothing else.
They don’t care about the athletes, they only care about padding their wallets because they’re too cheap to buy decent chairs.

Honestly, it’s time, more than time for the Olympics to be done away with in the current incarnation, and if ever resurrected, the IOC needs to remain dead.

Oh, and besides Fencing, the cross-country shooting, archery, shot-put and javelin events are also all about killing and war, so as I said before, fuck the IOC.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

furthermore, both soccer and boxing exclude the best in the sports: Soccer is U23 + 2 stars and boxing is for amateurs who haven’t turned pro yet.

There are a few other sports where the olympics simply isn’t that important and then there is weightlifting where top 3 in some wight classes have been caught using doping during the 2 years following the olympics more than once (Talk about doping problems! Most weightlifters here call the olympics a “pharmacy competion”. If anything the drug developers should sue IOC for not showing their brand-name as appropriate…

Agammamon says:

Unless the past has been changed, a lot of the basic Olympic sports were *actual combat tactics* – stuff like javelin and relay races, biathalon, discus, etc.

There are plenty of violent sports in the Olympics already and, frankly, somebody who can throw a javelin accurately (or even just far) is way more worriesome to me than a dude who’s really really good as CS:GO.

Narcissus (profile) says:

Who cares?

If I was in e-sports in any capacity I’d want to stay away from the event-whose-name-can’t-be-mentioned-without-a-licence like it was a mobster in a cheap suit.

Many sports, especially less popular ones, are dependent on this event for promotion. Many of those are only seen on TV once every 4 years when they’re jammed between the semi-final 100m dash and the swimming series. That way they can recruit new blood and stay relevant.

E-sports is doing pretty well on their own.

SteveG (profile) says:

Drugs in eSports

I was at an eSports gambling conference where they spoke about the laws relating to doping. They’re actively planning to ensure that only drugs that enhance performance are excluded.

They aren’t planning to test for THC or steroids, for instance, because neither boost performance.

Ritalin, on the other hand, is right out. Coffee is more likely to be banned than steroids! They explicitly said that they aren’t there to enforce drug laws or moral codes.

Adding it to the olympics might force them to follow the more rigid “no getting high ever” rules, which could actually be bad for eSports in general.

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Right up to the point that "They who shall not be named for fear of trademark infrigement or copyright breach" sue for copying their format as no doubt they own that.

Point and case:

Rule 40 was relaxed ever-so-slightly to allow athletes to appear in generic advertising that doesn’t explicitly mention the games or use any Olympic IP, which includes terms such as “Rio”, “medal”, “performance”, “victory” and “gold”.

So you can start your own so long as you don’t mention “medal”, “performance”, “victory” and “gold”

Narcissus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think those other major sports don’t have that option. Most sports coverage is very focused on popular sports.There’s is probably hundreds of hours of TV a week about Football during the season. How often do you see women’s gymnastics?

Most major sports (basketball, baseball, football, soccer etc.) are mostly irrelevant during the event-that-shall-not-be-infringed-upon. It’s about the small sports for whom this is their whole raison d’etre.

XcOM987 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

How often do you see women’s gymnastics?
Not enough, but to be honest you can say the same thing about most sports, there simply isn’t enough viewship to cover the costs of running a dedicated channel for it and there isn’t enough air time to shoehorn every sport in to existing channels, and when there is, again the viewship is an issue as it doesn’t cover the cost of the airtime.

I would love for some of the lower sports to be shown more, even if I don’t really like sports.

Personally I do watch quite a bit of eSports and Let’s Plays on Youtube and twitch as that seems to be platform for it all, this is the future really I recon, cutting out the TV broadcasters.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is just posturing by the IOC

I know, I’ve dealt with them. Their playbook includes a number of go-to tactics, and this is one of them: play hard-to-get with a sport (or in this case, a non-sport) in order to extort concessions from it in exchange for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

This isn’t about drugs and violence: it’s about marketing rights. The ploy is that the IOC will demand total control in order to “defend the reputation of the games” and “uphold the traditions of athletic competition” which translates to “we want all the resulting profits forever”. They’ve done it before. It’s worked repeatedly. Doesn’t always work: some sports are large enough to tell the IOC to GTFO. But smaller, hungrier sports have fallen for it.

My own sport made exactly this mistake and has been devastated financially as a result. It’s been great for the handful of people who’ve gotten to go to the Olympics, and I don’t begrudge them that: they worked hard for it and sacrificed a lot of their young lives. But for everyone else it’s been horrible: there’s no money or other resources left over for them. We (over my objections) sold our souls to the IOC and now we’re screwed.

McGyver (profile) says:

I couldn’t care less about the Olympics, but isn’t it a little hypocritical to say that esports “are about violence, killing and explosions”, when hockey is still an Olympic event?
Granted there are fewer explosives used in hockey nowadays, but it’s not an example of perfect nonviolent sportsmanship.
Shooting?
Archery?
Okay, you aren’t shooting or firing arrows at anyone, which in my opinion would make these sports more interesting, but guns and arrow firing devices are sorta associated with certain death causing events, or am I missing the history of guns and arrows?
Fine, I’ll give them that one…
Boxing?
Judo?
Karate?
Okay… Hitting other people isn’t a form of violence if it’s it’s in a ring?
Sounds like a good argument for a domestic violence lawyer…
But, no… as humorous as it is to see two people beat the snot out of each other, I’m not giving them that one…
Curling?
How many people have committed suicide watching that event?
Does the IOC not remember that the origins of the relay race involved a lit stick of dynamite instead of a baton or that javelin throwers used to aim at each other?
Probably not, because I just made that up, but that’s no less stupid then claiming all video games are about violence.
My guess is nobody associated with esporting events wanted to pay the high suggested bribery fees to get the ball rolling on that.
It’s better off for esports anyway, let it have its own venue and not be weighed down by the Olympic brand and other IOC nonsense.
The Olympics are just a big fat nepotistic money making machine that have strayed too far from their original ideal.
Yes there are fine athletes and good people there… but the IOC?… Pfft.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Funny, but at least “not a real sport” is more of an actual objection than something so transparently hypocritical as “we don’t support violence” when many of the official Olympics sports are martial arts and/or themselves celebrating violence: boxing anyone?

If esports are a ‘sport’ so is sitting on your ass flipping rapidly through the channel line up with your remote to avoid commercial breaks. Just because someone can get millions in sponsorships from an action doesn’t make it a sport.

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