JAKARTA (Reuters) - Esports must streamline its governing bodies and avoid over-commercialisation before it can graduate to a full medal event at the next Asian Games, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Director General Husain Al-Musallam has told Reuters.
Competitive video gaming made its major multi-sport event debut as a demonstration sport at the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, raising the possibility of Olympic inclusion in the near future.
Although the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) claims to be the “sole competent authority for electronic sports” in the region, South Korea’s International e-sports Federation organises separate world championships.
There is no single international body.
“The basic rule of OCA is that esports must have good governance. Esports should have one body governing them, like one Asian body and one world federation,” Al-Musallam said in an interview on Wednesday.
In Jakarta, participants from 18 nations have been competing in six different games, including League of Legends, which is one of the most popular titles in the world with more than 27 million players daily.
“We understand that esports is commercial but it cannot be more commercialised, otherwise it will lose the value of sports,” Al-Musallam added.
“It needs to be away from the violent sports. If the esports family don’t fix these problems, they will find themselves outside.
“We are giving them guidance, we are giving them advice, we are supporting them and have put them in Games.”
Last November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognised esports as a sporting activity and in July this year hosted a forum dedicated to competitive gaming at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
The Jakarta debut is also seen as a trial run for inclusion as an exhibition event in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“Now in Asia we recognise one federation. In Asia it’s easier and manageable,” Al-Musallam said.
“But to come to the Olympic Games it will be complicated as there are more than one international sports federations and they need to get together and merge under one umbrella.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by John O'Brien