For the first time in history, eSports will be a part of the official sporting program of the 2022 Asian Games as a medal event.
In the official announcement released by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), it stated that the inclusion aims to reflect “the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation”.
In the lead up to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, competitive video games will first appear in this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan and then be included in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia as a demonstration sport.
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Participants at AIMAG can compete in FIFA 2017 and various multiplayer online battle arena games, such as League of Legends or DOTA 2, and real-time strategy games, such as StarCraft II.
According to BBC, Alisports, the sports wing of e-commerce giant Alibaba initiated the development in partnership with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Alisports recently invested $150 million in the International eSports Federation, the South Korean group that requested to include e-sports in the games via the International Olympic Committee, reports Kotaku. The Asian Games, being second only to the Olympics in terms of size, is expected to further enhance the acceptance of eSports to be part of mainstream sports and possibly give it a chance of an eventual inclusion in the Olympics in the near future.