A representative of the Paris Olympic bid committee made waves earlier this month when he told the Associated Press they wanted to talk to the International Olympic Committee about adding esports to the 2024 Games. This was met with the usual “video games aren’t sports” grumbles, but the esports market continues to grow while the Olympics’ ratings continue to sink, and the IOC, being the money-grubbing multibillion-dollar entity that it is, didn’t immediately rule out this potential moola-making venture.
This week, however, IOC president Thomas Bach put a bit of a damper on Paris’ esports dreams. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, he made it clear the IOC wants nothing to do with violent games. “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach said. “This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.” That stance is a bit of a problem for anyone hoping to see video games make it to the Olympics, since most popular esports could be considered violent. That would definitely count out first-person shooters like Counter-Strike and Overwatch, fighting games like Street Fighter V, and possibly even the likes of League Of Legends and Dota 2, commonly thought of as the two most popular esports in the world right now.
So what video games, if any, would Bach be okay with hosting in the Olympics? Digital simulations of sports already played in the Games, of course. As far as popular games go, that leaves EA’s FIFA series of soccer games and 2K’s NBA 2K basketball games as the only real contenders. While both have spawned esports events that get healthy support from their publishers and the sports leagues they represent, neither have competitive scenes that are comparable in size to the games most people associate with esports.