Jakarta: E-sports is debuting as an exhibition sport at the Asian Games and is targeted for full inclusion in four years at the Games in Hangzhou, China.
Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, said the long-term aim is getting e-sports into the Olympics.
This seems a possibility, given that the International Olympic Committee held a forum on e-sports just last month at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Our agenda is to push for the Olympic agenda,” Fok said at the opening of e-sports at the Asian Games. “This is our work. And this is our passion, this is what drives us. When? I don’t know. When, I do not want to predict.”
Fok described the inclusion of e-sports as an exhibition in the Asian Games as “a very good first step” and said the goal is to “take down obstacles, step by step.”
Fok has strong Olympic connections. His father, Timothy, was an IOC member from Hong Kong from 2001 until 2016 and he remains an honorary member.
Gamers don’t argue they are athletes, but say they share the same drive to compete. But this could also be said about bridge players — a game also being contested at the Asian Games — or chess, or competitive dancing.
But these pastimes can’t generate much income — not like e-sports.
“I think e-sports shares the same spirit with traditional sports,” said Wang Tianlong of China, speaking through a translator, after taking gold in Arena of Valor. “No matter if we are e-sports players or athletes, we all fight to win for our country.”
Khien Vuong Trung, a bronze medallist from Vietnam in Arena of Valor, said he met initial scepticism.
“At the beginning, my parents didn’t want me to be a professional e-sports athlete,” he said. “But it is growing in my country. And my parents also saw my love for it. So they began to be supportive.”