Esports event in PyeongChang before Olympics supported by IOC

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An esports tournament will be held in PyeongChang in February, days before the Winter Olympics, with support from the International Olympic Committee.

The Intel Extreme Masters tournament will be held Feb. 6-9, according to the Sports Business Journal.

Intel did not specify exact dates in Friday’s announcement but did say it will be in February and ahead of the Olympics. Intel is a global Olympic sponsor.

The PyeongChang Winter Games Opening Ceremony is Feb. 9, with competition starting the day prior.

“The IOC will now explore esport’s relationship with the Olympic Movement further,” Timo Lumme, managing director, IOC Television and Marketing Services, said in a press release. “This is the start of an exciting future, and we’re interested to see how this experience will play out.”

The esports tournament will feature the game “StarCraft II.” A separate exhibition featuring “Steep Road to the Olympics,” the official licensed game of the PyeongChang Winter Games, will also be held.

Last week, key Olympic figures, including IOC president Thomas Bach, said they believe esports “can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement.”

Esports is nowhere near becoming an official Olympic event. Esports does not have an international governing body recognized by the IOC, the first step toward potential Olympic inclusion.

“Competitive ‘esports’ could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports,” read a press release from the IOC after a meeting last week.

In August, a Paris 2024 Olympic bid leader reportedly said he planned to talk with esports representatives and the IOC about gaming possibly joining the 2024 Olympic program.

Los Angeles 2028 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman has praised esports.

“We view esports’ immense global popularity and continued advances in digital technologies as tremendous tools for reconnecting millennials with the Olympic movement,” Wasserman said in a press release last year. “LA 2024 [sic] will work to ensure technology enhances young people’s sports experiences, instead of replacing them, and becomes a platform for further popularizing Olympic and Paralympic sports.”

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