Brisbane Olympics: Aussie sports could miss out if video gaming hits the play button in 2032
Brisbane Olympic organisers have dropped a massive hint that a left field rival could threaten some of the traditional sports for a cherished spot at the 2032 Games.
The booming popularity of competitive video gaming is threatening to kill the chances of iconic Australian sports being included in the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.
As part of the new rules which allowed Queensland to jump the queue and be awarded the 2032 Games, the host-nation will also be allowed to recommend some new sports for inclusion on the program — even if only as a one-off.
There are strict rules, of course, and only one or possibly two sports will be lucky enough to get the final nod, so the competition is already intense.
For Australia’s long-time favourite sports such as cricket, netball, lifesaving, Aussie rules and rugby league, Brisbane 2032 is their once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of the biggest event in world sport.
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But after Sunday’s first meeting of the Brisbane organising committee — which actually took place in Sydney — Olympic organisers dropped a massive hint that a left field rival — video gaming — was building an irresistible case for immediate inclusion.
It is now only a matter of time before virtual gaming — or esports — is played at the Olympics and that time could well be Brisbane 2032.
Traditionalists may shake their heads in disbelief and wonder if the world has gone crazy, but the case for esports getting an invite to the Olympic circus is compelling.
It already has hundreds of millions of players around the world, with the best earning a fortune in organised online competitions and is a multi billion dollar industry that’s only getting bigger and bigger.
But the clincher is that it fits perfectly with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) attempts to modernise its program after already adding sports such as BMX racing, skateboarding and climbing.
As Kirsty Coventry, the chair of the co-ordination commission for Brisbane 2032 put it: “What we are looking for is sports which are well appreciated by the younger generation.
“As you’ve already seen with Tokyo and (other) previous Games, it’s really about getting them excited by the Olympic dream.”
Her message could not be any clearer but with a decade to go, Coventry emphasised that it was still way too early to decide which sports will be on the program for Brisbane so everything was up in the air.
Cricket has plenty of support within the IOC too and has the advantage of being hugely popular on the Indian subcontinent, one of the regions the IOC wants to attract more viewers.
Cricket has also been played at the Olympics before, in 1900, but if made a comeback it would most likely be in the faster T20 format.
The IOC is constantly talking to sports about what they need to do get into the Olympics, including running a practice event with esports before the Tokyo Olympics.
“We’re testing out the virtual series already, which has been a huge success,” Coventry said.
“There’s so many (sports) which we can look at so I think we need to evaluate each sport as a whole but also how it integrates within the movement and what values they live by on a daily basis and how they influence youth today.”
Choosing which sports end up on the program is just one of the many decisions for the board, which has held all of its previous meetings online until now.
The first face-to-face meeting took place after the Australian Olympic Committee‘s annual general meeting at Darling Harbour, where Ian Chesterman was elected to replace outgoing president John Coates.
The IOC president Thomas Bach was among the attendees and said he was greatly impressed by everything he heard at the first get together, though he warned there would be hard times ahead.
“It was like a honeymoon meeting,” he said.
“But this honeymoon will not last forever, as we know from experience.
“Like every marriage it will have its ups and downs but the mutual respect and the enthusiasm will make sure we will also overcome some unexpected obstacles.”
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said planning was already well underway even with the Games 10 years away.
“We’ve got talent scouts out there at the moment trying to find the next Ian Thorpe, the next Susie O’Neill and the next Cathy Freeman,” she said.
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“We are already have 85 per cent of our venues already complete.
“And we know the enthusiasm that all of Australia had for the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and I know that the Olympics in Brisbane in 2032 will have just as much enthusiasm if not more.”
Originally published as Brisbane Olympics: Aussie sports could miss out if video gaming hits the play button in 2032