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Esports to be Officially Recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)

Esports to be Officially Recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)
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By

The Bridge

Published: 24 Feb 2021 8:28 AM GMT

After years of fighting and pleading from India’s Esports community, the government has finally elected to push for Esports to be properly recognised as a sport by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). A few weeks ago, a trend started on Twitter with advocates using the hashtag ‘#recognizeesportsindia’, which successfully got the government’s attention. As a result, the IOA and many media outlets had to sit up and listen.

Shortly after the hashtag had circulated, the Indian government said they were looking into the matter. As a result, the Indian Olympic Association has announced that Esports will be officially recognised. Included in all this will be the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) recognition as the leading governing body of Esports in the country.

Gaming Policy Reviewed in Detail

Right now talks are taking place at the Indian Parliament about India’s issues and gaming policies. Conversations are a massive step forward for the Esports community in India. However, they still have a long journey to achieve full recognition and respect from fellow sportsmen and women.

Kiren Rijiju - The Indian Minister of State For Youth Affairs and Sports - released a statement regarding Esports acknowledging that it is an essential emerging platform for the youth and is part of a vast Esports community in India that deserves acknowledgement. The acknowledgement is music to any Esports gamer’s ears in India fighting for a very long time to have their sport recognised by their country.

When asked about the plans the government had for Esports by Jagdambika Pal, a member of Lok Sabha, Kiren Rijiju said that the government has realised that gaming is entirely different to gambling and requires skill versus chance and that the IOA should recognise it.

Celebrating Tirth Mehta

In 2018, an Indian Hearthstone player named Tirth Mehta won a bronze medal at the digital card-based gaming tournament. The tournament was an impressive moment for Indian Esports players as it marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a very successful time for India’s Esports community. We hope to see more wins in PUBG, Counter-Strike and VALORANT tournaments scheduled to happen soon. Not only will this prove to the government that this is a serious industry, but it will also help boost the sport in the country and encourage more people to take part in it.

In 2018 at the Asian Games, the Olympic Council of Asia decided to include Esports as a demonstration sport with six titles played in the demo category. The inclusion is significant for Esports gamers worldwide and could mean that Esports will soon be an Olympic contender available worldwide.

A Clean Slate

The inclusion presents a clean slate for gamers and proving to neigh-sayers that Esports is, in fact, a serious sport that deserves to be recognised for its skilled and hard-working players. The titles played at the next Asian games are yet to be released, but Esports has its official spot that is most important to the fans.

If sports such as tug of war and chess have made it onto the list of events officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee, then surely Esports will make it up there one day. Once you look closely at the sport, you’ll realise that it requires a lot of skill, practice and dedication, all words you’ll hear when talking about any other sport out there. Gamers train long and hard, just as long and hard as any swimmer, hockey player, or gymnast, but critics believe it should not be recognised due to the lack of physical involvement.

Esports may not have a long historical line in the Olympic games that most other games have, but the ESFI has acknowledged the sport for a while now and held annual tournaments in South Korea from 2009. The International eGames Committee has announced that there will be Esports competitions promoted to coincide with the Official Olympics in addition to the Korean games. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the IOC and British government held an Esports competition, which was a first for the world of Esports.

New Sports Added To The Olympic List

Proposing a new sport and adding to the Olympics is not easy, with sports such as softball, karate, baseball, and skateboarding, only making it onto the 2022 Olympic Games list to be held in Tokyo. Sports like tiddlywinks have been rejected for obvious reasons.

Rest assured the future of Esports is looking bright. All the evidence suggests that it could one day be recognised internationally as an official Olympic sport which can only help push forward the #recognizeesportsindia on-going cause.

In India, Esport gamers will soon receive their deserved recognition and compete against some of the world's best game players and put India on the map of professional gaming countries.

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