First 'Internationally Recognised' Athlete Visa Awarded To Pro Gamer

A month ago, Riot Games said it had gotten the US government to include eSports contestants under the visa policy that allows professional athletes from other countries to visit for purposes of competition. The first such visa has been awarded, to a Canadian League of Legends star.

Danny "Shiphtur" Le, of Edmonton, got the visa, reports the Los Angeles Times, to come to southern California to train for October's world championships, to be held in Los Angeles. The visa he holds is a P-1A, the one set aside for "internationally recognised athletes" according to a spokesman for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Each case will be evaluated individually, he told the Times.

Yes, Canadian visitors are generally allowed to enter the US directly from Canada without a visa and stay for up to six months. Why did Shiphtur need a visa, then? While pro gamers may come to the US as a business gamer, play in a competition and leave with any prize money they earn, they cannot earn a salary while they're here. That's what Le is doing as he trains.

Of course, a government policy equating video game players with professional athletes arched eyebrows and drew a lot of sneers when it was first announced, but this sort of thing appears to be with us for good. Everyone's favourite bizarro animation shop Next Media Animation, as usual, took great delight in the reaction, whipping together that video above with Shiphtur trashing traditional sports and laying waste to the Olympics. Enjoy.

Online game League of Legends star gets US visa as pro athlete [Los Angeles Times]


    Why is this getting coverage now? The 10 week Summer LCS split ENDS next week. I'm an avid viewer of the LCS and this was barely news even when it happened, let alone 2 months later.

    I don't have a problem with the Visa being given, but don't go calling video gamers athletes. Video gamers are no more athletes than chess players or rubiks cubers.

      Came here to say this. Athlete is not a term that should be used to describe a person who plays video games. Competitively or otherwise...

    Quite glad the video called them eAthletes rather just athlete, i'd laugh in front of anyones face if they were a pro gamer called themselves an athlete.

    That being said i've got nothing against them being able to apply for the P-1A visa if it'll allow international pro gamers to easily compete in America and show them what they're capable off.

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