New level of gam­ing?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE -

Video gamers could be com­pet­ing for Olympic medals by 2024.

Tony Es­tanguet, co-pres­i­dent of the Paris Olympic bid com­mit­tee, said he will hold talks with e-sports rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee about the pos­si­bil­ity of gam­ing join­ing the 2024 pro­gram.

The ex­plo­sion in pop­u­lar­ity of e-sports events — draw­ing large crowds of young­sters to are­nas for tour­na­ments — has al­ready seen gam­ing em­braced by the Asian Games. It will be­come a full sport by the 2022 edi­tion, although de­tails of which games will be con­tested are not known.

Paris will be con­firmed as 2024 hosts at an IOC gath­er­ing in Lima, Peru, next month af­ter its only com­peti­tor, Los An­ge­les, agreed to take the 2028 Games.

Es­tanguet be­lieves that a con­test of dig­i­tal prow­ess should be con­sid­ered a le­git­i­mate sport if the Olympics is to main­tain its rel­e­vance for new gen­er­a­tions of fans.

“We have to look at it be­cause we can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’ ” Es­tanguet said. “The youth, yes they are in­ter­ested in e-sport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.

“I don’t want to say ‘no’ from the be­gin­ning. I think it’s in­ter­est­ing to in­ter­act with the IOC, with them, the e-sports fam­ily, to bet­ter un­der­stand what the process is and why it is such a suc­cess.”

The 2024 pro­gram will start to be shaped in 2019 with a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the ad­di­tion of sports in Paris to be taken by the IOC af­ter the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“There is some time to look at it, to in­ter­act, to en­gage,” Es­tanguet said. “We will spend some time af­ter [the IOC meet­ing in Septem­ber] Lima to en­gage with new peo­ple and stake­hold­ers. The IOC will have the last … say, if they want e-sports on the pro­gram. Let’s dis­cuss among our­selves.”

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