On 15 February 2021, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Swiss-based authority responsible for organising the modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games, issued its “Olympic Agenda 2020+5”, a strategic roadmap to 2025, which sets out 15 recommendations aimed at safeguarding the Olympic values and reinforcing the role of sports in society. This set of recommendations follows the Olympic Agenda 2020, which paved the way for the future of the Olympics.
Within the 15 key points highlighted by the IOC’s Executive Board, Recommendation 9 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 calls upon the IOC and the Olympic Movement to “encourage the development of virtual sports and further engage with video gaming communities”. In doing so, the Executive Board underpins the growing popularity of virtual sports for the purpose of promoting “the Olympic Movement, Olympic values, sports participation and [to] grow direct relations with youth”.
Clearly, the focus of the IOC remains on so-called “virtual sports”, which are already somehow accepted and integrated in the IOC’s ecosystem, rather than opening up and fully embracing the broader world of “esports”.
But let’s take a step back. What is the difference between “gaming”, “esports” and “virtual sports”?
This piece was written for and first published by LawInSport. The full article is available to view here.