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Olympic president: Violent games still a problem facing esports as an event

Six esports demonstrated at this week’s 2018 Asian Games

Asian Games - Day 14
Medallsts in the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games, which ended today in Jakarta.
Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The Olympics’ boss is complaining about violent video games again.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, again said the Olympics would not consider “a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” without giving a specific example of a popular esport that does. Last year he made a similar criticism when asked if esports would ever join the Olympic program.

The occasion this time is the Asian Games, which featured six esports in a demonstration program (Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 and StarCraft 2). The competition concluded today with Japan winning gold in PES 2018. China won gold in two events and three medals in all, most of the seven nations competing.

But Bach isn’t impressed. “So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted,” he said,

An Associated Press reporter noted that Bach won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics in fencing, a sport in which competitors poke one another with a sword. Bach chided any comparison to that as a violent competition.

“Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people,” he said. “But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”

Last year at this time, Bach made the same non-discrimination and nonviolence criticism of video games on the whole when he demurred about esports’ inclusion in future Olympics. Later, the IOC issued a statement that noted esports growth and appeal, but said it needs a worldwide governing federation for the IOC to work with, first.

In July, the IOC held a forum with the Global Association of International Sports Federations on the subject of esports, with Blizzard Entertainment’s Mike Morhaime, Riot Games chief executive Nicolo Laurent, and the Electronic Sports League founder Ralf Reichert present. The IOC and GAISF formed a liaison group to continue the discussion of esports in the Olympics, and Bach will list esports on the agenda for the next Olympic Summit meeting in December.

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