As it stands, there are three cities on the shortlist to host the 2024 Olympics: Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest. And the biggest of those, Los Angeles, wants to hitch the Olympic bandwagon to the world of esports.
In a release sent to the media, the delegation for the LA 2024 bid announced that they wanted to include esports as part of the 2024 Olympics to help “reinvigorating global youth’s connection to the Olympic Movement”.
It’s not the first time video games have been mentioned in connection with the Olympics. The industry has been talking up the potential for video games to be included as an Olympic sport for over a decade. A few professional gamers were even selected to participate in the Olympic Torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including Warcraft 3 pro-gamers Moon and Sky.
But the push has gained a lot more momentum as esports becomes increasingly lucrative. The International Esports Federation lobbied the International Olympic Committee earlier this year to consider competitive gaming as part of the 2020 Olympic Games, which seems a natural fit given that it’s being held in Tokyo.
“LA 2024 fully supports the IOC’s mission to get young people all over the world leading active, healthy lifestyles,” Casey Wasserman, chairman of the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid, said. “We view esports’ immense global popularity and continued advances in digital technologies as tremendous tools for reconnecting Millennials with the Olympic Movement.”
It makes sense that the Olympics would want to court gamers, and a demographic, that is increasingly watching less TV. Broadcast ratings for the Rio Olympics were 25 percent lower among 18 to 49 years old, according to Bloomberg.
Something that isn’t declining, though, is the popularity of esports. Of course, if video games ends up being a part of the Olympics then organisers will have to work out whether they’ll allow users to spectate those matches in-game – or if it’ll be a streamed, Twitch/YouTube/Azubu etc. only affair.