The government on Tuesday gave esports a major boost by integrating it with mainline sports disciplines in the country.
The President of India, Droupadi Murmu, in the exercise of the powers “conferred by clause (3) of article 77 of the Constitution” amended the rules governing esports and asked the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Sports Ministry to include “e-Sports as part of multi-sports events”.
There had been a growing demand for esports to be included in the curriculum of multi-discipline events after it was included in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games as a demonstration sport, meaning medals won in the sport were not counted in the official overall medals tally.
But following the President’s notification, issued on December 23, that IT Ministry will be the nodal agency for online gaming-related matters and the sports ministry will have to include it in its curriculum, it has come as a shot in the arm for esports enthusiasts.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) too is going big on popularising esports with Singapore being confirmed to host the inaugural Olympic Esports Week in June next year.
This marks the next big step in supporting the development and integration of virtual sports with the Olympic movement and engaging further with competitive gamers.
The IOC had said in November this year that the Olympic Esports Week would showcase the best of virtual sports—hybrid physical and simulated sports—in the four-day festival from June 22 to 25, including exhibiting the latest technologies, panel discussions, education sessions and show matches.
IOC President Thomas Bach had said last month that the inaugural Olympic Esports Week would mark an important milestone “in our ambition to support the growth of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement”.
The Indian DOTA 2 team had clinched bronze at the first Commonwealth Esports Championship held in Birmingham in August defeating New Zealand.
The sport will make its debut at the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China next year.
Reacting to the report of its inclusion as a mainline sport, Lokesh Suji, director, Esports Federation of India and vice-president of the Asian Esports Federation, said the efforts of the fraternity had finally borne fruit.
“We have been constantly working on establishing the difference between esports and iGaming, and finally, our efforts have been fulfilled. We welcome this announcement by our government, which will open new avenues to pour in more investment opportunities in this booming industry.
“From now onwards, we will have to build proper infrastructure, training facilities and coaching for our young esports athletes. Only a short time until we see esports being placed in the same league as cricket, football, basketball, etc. and having similar fan power, scale and craze,” said Suji.