What’s stopping esports from becoming Olympic sports? #LAW

Carrabine, Z. (2019). Paris 2024 “GLHF”: Esports’ Quest for Olympic Inclusion. Sports Law. J., 26, 229.


Julia Cwierz


None available

The Data

This article analyses the rules of International Olympic Committee, International Federations and National Olympic Committees which need to be complied with in order for esports to become an Olympic sport. It also considers the status of players and game developers in the light of the values set by the Olympic Movement. 


“The IOC is hesitant to recognize esports as an Olympic sport because it lacks an organizational structure that will ensure compliance with Olympic rules and values.”

“In order to be recognized as an Olympic sport, an international organization petitions the IOC to be recognized as an IF. The IF must adopt the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of Manipulation of Competitions, as well as the entire OC, and then the IOC will evaluate the IF.”

“The strongest IF candidate for IOC recognition is the International eSports Federation (IeSF), which applied for IOC recognition in 2016. The IeSF was formed in South Korea in 2008 and currently includes forty-eight member nations (…) While the IeSF has met several of the regulatory prerequisites, the inconsiderable amount of member NFs and their lack of competitiveness on the world stage is problematic.”

“Publishers will not want to relinquish the self-governance of their games to an independent federation. They want to maintain their extraordinary control over their game titles and to whom they license them”

“Esports would provide significant value to the Olympic movement because of its popularity among the younger generation. The esports audience totaled 385 million viewers in 2017 and is expected to increase to 589 million viewers by 2020.”

Our Take on it

“Could esports become Olympic sports? Definitely! But there are some major things to figure out first. Initially, the IOC needed to be comfortable that esports are sports. This one’s sorted. They now accept that gamers exhibit skilled motor and cognitive performance, comparable to traditional athletes. Yet, legally esport players haven’t achieved athlete status all over the world yet. Aside from this, 3 barriers remain: 1) Establishing uniform standards of play and professionalism across esports by a single publisher; 2) Player safeguarding from exploitation by publishers and organizers; 3) Profit-sharing agreements between the gamers and the stakeholders. To resolve such issues the esports industry needs a governance structure and an International Federation (IF) to ensure that it complies with the Olympic values. As yet, no organization enjoys this authority, despite various seeking to achieve this status and it’s an already busy global picture with IESF, GEF, WESCO, and ESIC all making contributions.” – Julia Cwierz

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