Video games have been a popular source of entertainment for several decades, but video game competitions have only recently begun to go mainstream. The growing popularity of esports, a term that refers to competitive video gaming, has attracted the attention of some of the biggest events in sports, including the Olympics.
The International Olympics Committee (IOC), which organizes the Games, previously expressed its intention to “further engage with video gaming communities.” On March 1, the Olympics tweeted its intention to run an “Olympic Esports Series.” That led some, like VERIFY reader Tyler, to wonder if the Olympic Games would begin to include esports.
Are there going to be esports at the 2024 Olympics?
No, there will not be esports at the 2024 Olympics.
WHAT WE FOUND
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on March 1 that it had created the Olympic Esports Series 2023, an ongoing gaming competition that will culminate with live finals in Singapore this summer.
This series has no connection to the Olympic Games, which will be held next year and on the opposite side of the world in Paris. The Paris 2024 Organizing Committee has released its official list of Olympic competitions and the only new addition is breakdancing. The list doesn’t include esports.
The Olympic Esports Series finals and official “Esports Week” will take place in Singapore between June 22 and June 25. The IOC says Olympic Esports Week will be a festival showcasing “the best of virtual sports” organized in partnership with Singapore’s government and Olympic council.
In esports competitions like this one, professional gamers often compete for money in front of live in-person or online audiences. The competitions typically feature multiplayer games where players compete head-to-head.
Most esports events feature popular strategy games like League of Legends, shooter games like Call of Duty and combat games like Street Fighter. Instead of headlining its esports series with titles like these, the IOC instead chose nine games that more closely fit with Olympic sport categories.
The games for two of the IOC’s chosen categories — motorsport and chess — are already regularly played in global competitions. Gran Turismo is a racing game that runs an annual “world series. Chess.com has an ongoing $2 million Champions Chess Tour.
Just Dance, representing dance; Zwift, the platform for cycling; and WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER PROS, the IOC’s chosen baseball game, have had one-off competitions in the past. The rest of the games — representing archery, sailing, taekwondo and tennis — aren’t well-known and have little history as esports.
This isn’t the first time the IOC has held esports events. A few years ago it ran the 2021 Olympic Virtual Series, which included five competitions and similarly operated outside of the Olympic Games.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018 hosted a major final for a Starcraft II competition. Starcraft II is a strategy game that has historically been popular as an esport. While the finals of the tournament were played at the Olympics, it wasn’t an Olympic competition itself, and the IOC didn’t award any Olympic medals.