eSports' 2022 Asian Games medal status put on hold

JAKARTA, Indonesia – The inclusion of eSports as an official medal sport for the 2022 Asian Games cannot yet be confirmed, an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) official said on Saturday, August 18.

A meeting of the OCA executive committee in Jakarta approved a program of around 40 sports for the 2022 Asiad in Hangzhou, China, where eSports had been expected to make its full debut. (READ: 'League of Legends,' 'Starcraft II' to debut at 2018 Asian Games)

Instead, the OCA ratified all 33 Olympic sports from Tokyo 2020 – with the possibility of adding up to 6 disciplines from Paris 2024 – plus one sport nominated by each of the OCA's 5 regions, and two by the local organizing committee.

OCA director general Husain Al Musallam said eSports, whose competitions are currently organized by a diverse range of entities, needs a single international federation before it can be included as a medal sport.

"eSports is not finally decided to be officially in the program," he said on the sidelines of the OCA executive board meeting.

"There needs to be one international federation. Now there are so many international federations for eSports," Musallam told Agence France-Presse.

"They have to get together to decide one governing body. 

"To be 'official' in the program and not 'demonstration' it has to be one international sport."

The nature of eSports could make that difficult given the millions of dollars invested by individual game creators who then need to control how their product is used and marketed in global competition. 

Another huge stumbling block will be ensuring gamers comply with anti-doping regulations. 

At a first-of-its-kind summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month, eSports leaders met International Olympic Committee (IOC) executives to try to chart a way forward. (READ: Drive for Olympic status threatens esports split)

Last year, IOC chiefs declared that eSports could now be considered truly "a sport", but that violent or shooting games could never be considered for inclusion in any future Olympics.

"In order to be recognized by the IOC as a sport, the content of eSports must not infringe on the Olympic values," they said. –