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IOC president announces plans to create Olympic Esports Games

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-10-15 09:11
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MUMBAI -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is exploring plans for the creation of the Olympic Esports Games, IOC president Thomas Bach said here on Saturday.

Bach made the remarks during the opening ceremony of the 141st IOC session in Mumbai, India.

"I have asked our new IOC Esports Commission to study the creation of the Olympic Esports Games," he said.

The IOC president noted that the IOC has been engaging with esports since 2018 in a holistic way as there are three billion people playing esports and gaming around the world.

"We chose an approach that would allow us to be active in the esports space while staying true to our values that have guided us for over a century," said Bach.

"With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross. Our crystal-clear position is gaining more and more respect also in the esports community. One of the leading publishers even adapted their popular game to conform fully with our Olympic values - so that players shot at targets, not at people," he emphasized.

IOC's first engagement with the esports community was the organization of the Esports Forum in 2018 in Lausanne. In 2021, the IOC developed the Olympic Virtual Series, and then launched the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore earlier this year.

"In Singapore, we saw proof that our holistic approach is working. We successfully brought together the Olympic and the esports communities," said Bach.

A highlight of the Olympic Esports Week was the thrilling live finals, which generated more than six million views of live action over all channels, with 75 per cent of views from people aged 13 to 34, according to the IOC.

"This was a promising start. But it is just that: a start. It is like in any sport: after even a promising start, the real race still lies ahead," said Bach.

In his speech, the IOC chief also addressed the topic of artificial intelligence (AI): "Our continued success depends on how we embrace the ever-accelerating development of digital technology and in particular AI. This makes our Olympic Agenda 2020 imperative, 'change or be changed', even more urgent."

He called for a change of mindset in the Olympic Movement in order to seize this opportunity.

"The younger generation has a completely new way of thinking. They are living digital lives right now. We must not ignore their thinking if we do not want to jeopardize our own future. We must empower them to guide us with their young mindset," he said.

"We have to devise a holistic analysis of the opportunities and risks of AI - and then take action immediately. I am happy to inform you that this work is already underway. If things go well, you may see some first consequences of this already in Paris."

The 141st IOC session will run through Tuesday.

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