Beijing: International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach puts virtual sports as a priority for Olympic Games to engage with e-sports in an interview, here.
On the second day of his China trip, Bach on Saturday discussed the popular e-sports topic with Xinhua reporters, and he stated that virtual sports are the closest area between e-sports and traditional sports.
“Our approach to e-sports is with a priority to virtual sports, meaning reality sports, where there is physical activity, [like] cycling, rowing, in the meantime, you have even taekwondo in the e-form, and a number of other sports,” Bach commented.
The Olympic Esports Series 2023 was held in March, with archery, baseball, chess, cycling, dance, motorsport, sailing, taekwondo and tennis events open to professional and amateur players in the world.
“This is where we are closest to because the physical activity of these athletes is on the same level as athletes in traditional sports. Whether you’re doing a leg of the Tour de France on your bicycle at home, or you do the real leg, the physical activity is the same and the challenges,” he added.
In 2021, the IOC session unanimously approved the Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which includes encouraging the development of virtual sports and further engagement with video gaming communities.
According to Bach, however, there are “red lines” or “taboos” for such engagement.
“When it comes to the e-games, there is a very clear red line, however. Every game which is contradictory to the Olympic Values, like killer games or games which are discriminatory, is an absolute taboo to the Olympic movement,” Bach stated.
Bach believed that the Olympic movement can bring some good influences to the e-sports industry. “We think we have something to offer to the elite gamers because they are facing, in some respects, the same challenges as athletes in traditional sports.”
“They realize more and more that in order to compete at this high level, they need physical fitness. And they realize that they need to do something for their mental health because they are in this industry [that has] some challenges to be addressed,” said Bach.
“We are very open to exchange opinions, to give our expertise and put it at their disposal, to inspire them with our values and inspire them with the need to be physically active, so that they can really have a healthy lifestyle,” he added.