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by Timothy Geigner


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esports, olympics, paris, thomas bach, video games, violence

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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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  1. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:15pm

    Never mind the events with _actual weapon fire_.

    Of course, the IOC seems to think things like weed are performance-enhancing (or something). So whatevs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonmylous, 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:20pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:22pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:24pm

    Re:

    I absolutely agree. eSports are doing just fine without help from grandpappy Olympics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:30pm

    Man, Doping can make me better at video games? I totally gotta do that now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:35pm

    “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach told the South China Morning Post.

    Really?? So boxing, wrestling, and judo are promoting peace?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 4:39pm

    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.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Maxwell (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 5:08pm

    Oh really?

    “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people... ”

    By unleashing an army of relentless lawyers to harrass and shutdown anyone who dares to challenge the IP hegemony that we bought from your politicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    s7, 5 Sep 2017 @ 5:30pm

    Mtn. Dew & Dorritos

    “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.”

    Mtn.Dew is not a drug I tell ya'. I can quit at any time!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 5:45pm

    Re:

    Nothing says you want peace like punching a guy's face in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 5:49pm

    Chess as an Olympic Sport

    Only if it is 3D chess and done while skydiving from 30,000 feet.

    Now do the electronic stuff while surfing and we might have something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Machin Shin, 5 Sep 2017 @ 6:06pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    YaTOG, 5 Sep 2017 @ 6:21pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    mhajicek (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 7:01pm

    Re:

    Indeed. If games of the intellect were to be included, why hasn't the "sport" of chess been included since the beginning? The Olympics are about physical prowess; other competitions have their own, different, places.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 7:21pm

    The Olympics aren't even the 'peak' for some sports. For example, soccer has the World Cup and tennis has the Grand Slam tournaments. They're far more prestigious than the Olympics. eSports (and other things not in the Olympics) don't need to be included in the Olympics for legitimacy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Fuck the IOC

    And how about the shooting in the Olympics that gets its own wiki page?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Agammamon, 5 Sep 2017 @ 10:28pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Agammamon, 5 Sep 2017 @ 10:31pm

    > Many games of course include violence.

    Sure, the depictions are more graphic, but at its core, nailing a headshot is functionally identical to hitting the center of a paper target - no more or less violent than that for a all the splash and glitter on the screen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 5 Sep 2017 @ 11:55pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2017 @ 11:56pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    SteveG (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 12:47am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 1:53am

    Re:

    Don't forget that playing FIFA promotes violence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 3:45am

    Seriously? Violence? And then you have FIGHTING in the middle of the sports and it's ok? I mean, come on gramps, at least be consistent and replace the fighting tournaments with "pony combing tournaments" or something. Much more family-friendly!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 3:48am

    Re:

    I will agree with the "I'm glad eSports aren't getting sullied by that corrupt committee. Better off without it." part but as for the rest? Nah.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 4:15am

    Re: Re: Fuck the IOC

    If target shooting promotes violence then launching weather satellites into orbit atop ICBMs must promote armageddon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Annonymouse, 6 Sep 2017 @ 4:46am

    Once a majority of other major sports go the soccer boxing route or better yet do their own version of a comprehensive world event like the world cup then the IOC would be ripe for retirement and prosecution for all their shenanigans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    XcOM987 (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 5:00am

    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”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 5:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 5:40am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    McGyver (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 6:10am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 6:28am

    Don't Join 'Em - Beat 'Em

    You really DON'T want to join the criminal empire of the IOC.

    Start your own games with a new brand, the Elympics™.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re:

    We all know Jesus said "Thou shall not kill, but thou may beat someone half to death as much as thou likes".

    Video games cross that line by letting you kill imaginary people!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    XcOM987 (profile), 6 Sep 2017 @ 7:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 9:26am

    Well, their statement was better than "eGames are not a real sport, so go back to your fucking basement you losers".

    That wouldn't go over well either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Off topic, but why would a weight lifter, whose actual performance takes less than 30 seconds, need to dope? I can see PEDs but doping?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2017 @ 6:11pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2017 @ 1:37pm

    Violence? Let's ban Hollywood movies then. Nope, it won't happen.

    eSports is not sports, it's just competition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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