In a groundbreaking move, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has included electronic sports (Esport, e-sports or eSports) as a medal sport for the first time at Hangzhou Asian Games 2022, in China. It means that all medals won under the esports category will be added to a country’s overall tally. (More Sports News)
The decision to include Esport as an official medal in the Asiad was taken during the 39th OCA General Assembly in Muscat, Oman last week. But, Esports being featured in a multi-sports event isn’t new. It debuted in 2007 at the Asian Indoor Games, then was included at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and the Asian Games in 2018. It became an official sport at the Manila SEA Games in 2019.
OCA's recognition is a major step towards making Esport, which has long harboured Olympic ambitions, a mainstream sport. In April, International Olympic Committee (ICO) president Thomas Bach called for the movement to "urgently" investigate electronic versions of sports and to approach game publishers.
"I hope that electronic sports will add value to the Asian Games -- and I am sure it will in the future, during the Asian Games 2022 and even beyond that," the OCA's Asian Games director, Haider Farman, said in a statement on Friday.
Besides, breakdancing was also included on the Hangzhou programme - a move made to streamline with the Olympic movement's bid to draw younger audiences. The IOC has approved breakdancing, skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing, but Esport will have to wait.
According to an Asian Esports Federation (AESF) statement, it "presented its Exclusive Esports Report and video presentation chronicling the development and progress that they have made throughout Asia so far" during the 39th OCA General Assembly.
The statement further said that AESF "stressed the importance of Asia continent as the core region to fully harness the potential and achieve common goals of esports community in the world."
Hangzhou Asiad is scheduled for September 10 to 25 in 2022, and will feature 482 events across 40 sports.