The International Olympic Committee has announced plans to host an "Esports Forum" in partnership with the Global Association of International Sports Federations on July 21 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Esports players, publishers, teams, media, sponsors, and event organizers will be invited to take part, as will members of "the Olympic Movement" including representatives of national Olympic committees, sports federations, athletes, and the IOC itself.
"We are pleased to be hosting our first 'Esports Forum', which is a great opportunity for both the Olympic Movement and representatives from the world of esports and gaming to begin a discussion, listen and learn from each other, and understand the potential opportunities for collaboration," IOC sports director Kit McConnell said. "The IOC and GAISF are closely following the rapid development of esports globally, and we look forward to a really engaging discussion."
The forum will include a variety of panels, interviews, and roundtables ranging from a broad overview of esports—"Leading esports and gaming industry executives will share their thoughts on where the industry is now, what the current priorities are, and what they would like to see in terms of collaboration opportunities with the Olympic Movement"—to more focused topics such as The Key to Twitch's Success, Spotlight on the Intel Extreme Masters Pyeongchang, and A Day in the Life of an Elite Player. Gender equality, governance and best practices, broadcasting and revenue models, and athlete and investor perspectives will also be discussed.
"We understand that sport never stands still and the phenomenal growth of esports and gaming is part of its continuing evolution," GAISF president Patrick Baumann said. "The Esports Forum provides an important and extremely valuable opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of esports, their impact and likely future development, so that we can jointly consider the ways in which we may collaborate to the mutual benefit of all of sport in the years ahead."
The Olympics have unquestionably changed over the years, and while the traditionalist in me has a little trouble squaring the idea that Dota 2 belongs in the same arena as the 100 meters, the most popular Olympic sport in my homeland is hockey, so it's not like I'm in a position to be overly critical about these things. And while this relationship is clearly still in the exploratory stage, it seems almost inevitable: Esports will feature as a demonstration event at the 18th Asian Games, which run from August 18 to September 2, and are expected to be upgraded to a full medal sport for the 19th Asian Games in 2022.