Esports Olympics set to launch after IOC presents proposal for video games project

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The first Olympic Esports Games are set to be added soon to the IOC’s portfolio of events as it seeks to attract and retain young audiences.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it will ask members to approve a proposal to create a video game Olympics when they meet next month in Paris on the eve of the Summer Games.

The Olympic body said it was in “advanced discussions with a potential host” that should be announced soon after the July 23-24 meeting in Paris.

“The IOC is taking a major step forward in keeping up with the pace of the digital revolution,” its president Thomas Bach said in an online briefing.

The Esports Olympics will build on an IOC-backed week of video game competitions held last year in Singapore. It was a mix of physical simulations of Olympic sports and traditional video games.

The IOC said 75% of viewers engaging with the Singapore events were between the ages of 13 to 34.

The new project is another win inside Olympic circles for the French official David Lappartient, who is increasingly seen as being presented as a potential IOC leadership candidate.

Lappartient, the president of cycling’s governing body, was given the esports brief by Bach several years ago. Last year, he also was elected to lead France’s Olympic body and steered a French Alps bid to be the surprise preferred bid of the IOC to host the 2030 Winter Games. Sweden had been the favorite.

Bach said on Friday it was a “no-brainer” that Lappartient would stay involved with the Esports Olympics project.

Seeking to reassure Olympic sports which do not have an esports presence, Bach said the video games event would have a financial model separate from the current sharing of revenue from the Summer Games and Winter Games.

“We are not entering into financial adventures which would put their subventions at risk,” Bach said, referring to Olympic sports governing bodies which get shares from IOC funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars every four years.


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