Last Updated: October 14, 2023, 20:20 IST
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 141st International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai, IOC President Thomas Bach on Saturday announced plans to create Olympic Esports Games. “I have asked our new IOC Esports Commission to study the creation of Olympic Esports Games,” Thomas Bach said in his opening speech.
“Another dimension of this digital revolution is esports. There are 3 billion people playing esports and gaming around the world. It is estimated that over 500 million of them are interested specifically in esports which includes virtual sports and sport simulations. What is even more relevant to us: a majority of them are under the age of 34,” he said.
“This is why we took the strategic decision to engage with esports in a holistic way. We chose an approach that would allow us to be active in the esports space while staying true to our values that have guided us for over a century. With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross. Our crystal clear position is gaining more and more respect in the esports community. One of the leading publishers even adapted their popular game to conform fully with our Olympic values – so that players shot at targets, not at people,” he added.
Talking about the IOC Session being hosted in India, Bach lauded the country’s “growing Olympic spirit”. “India is a truly inspiring place to hold our IOC session – a country that combines a splendid history and the dynamic present with a vigorous confidence in the future… Another illustration of the growing Olympic spirit is the outstanding performance of the Indian athletes at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. Congratulations to India on its record-breaking medal haul. This is something that the entire Olympic community in India can be very proud of…” he said.
Touching upon the role of artificial intelligence in sports and Olympics, Bach said AI has the potential to revolutionise the organisation of the Games.
“As we all know, the Olympic Games are the most complex event in the world. AI will help to reduce, streamline, and optimise the work of Organising Committees in all aspects of planning and running the Games – down to the smallest detail. Running the Olympic Village more efficiently, managing spectator-flows, transportation and venues… The list goes on. All of this will make the organisation extremely efficient”
“AI has the potential to revolutionise sports broadcasting. The Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 will be the last Olympic Games of the pre-AI era. At the latest by the time of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, you will need far fewer people to produce and broadcast much higher quality content,” he added.
The IOC Session is being held in India for the second time after a gap of 40 years. It was last held in India in New Delhi in 1983.
An Indian delegation led by Nita Ambani, the first Indian woman to be elected as an IOC member, had made a compelling pitch at the 139th IOC session in Beijing in February 2022, following which Mumbai received overwhelming endorsement for its bid with 99% of the votes in its favour from the delegates participating in the process.