Esports in Paris 2024: Oui or Non? | Sports Destination Management

Esports in Paris 2024: Oui or Non?

Jan 07, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Esports continues to take steps toward the Olympics. In fact, if France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is to be believed, esports events like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Majors, League of Legends Worlds, and Dota 2's The International could find their place in Paris in 2024. At least that was his campaign promise and since he won that campaign, all eyes will be on him to see if he makes good.

A campaign promise relating to esports, while certainly something that curried the favor of a more youthful voting contingent, is not just static noise, though, given the surroundings. According to Choose Paris Region, an economic development site,  Paris has the highest concentration of video game companies in France with studios such as Ubisoft, Gameloft, DontNod Entertainment and Quantic Dream.

Wildly popular games like Assassin's Creed, the Raving Rabbids or Dofus were born in Paris as well, and Paris attracted international companies such as Riot Games and Twitch, which opened an office in Paris in 2019. The area also has multiple institutions of higher educations offering degrees in programming, gaming and animation. In an interview with TheBigWhale, Macron stressed the importance of promoting France as “THE country for video games.” 

 Emmanuel Macron, President of France, used esports as a platform in his campaign to win re-election.
 Emmanuel Macron, President of France, used esports as a platform in his campaign to win re-election.

And France would like to have a piece of the esports tourism pie (quiche?) as well. Dexerto notes that Macron has spoken repeatedly about the importance of making France a destination for esports fans, saying he wants to “establish a link between the two worlds’ Olympiads” by bringing international esports tournaments to Europe.

He cited the League of Legends World Championship, Dota 2’s The International, and CS:GO Major tournaments as events that France would look to host if he were re-elected, stating that “if the French trust me, we will work on it as soon as I am elected. This is what France’s influence is all about.”

Now safely in office, Macron has the responsibility of following through. And while esports will not be a showcase sport at the Olympic Games in 2024, the gaming community will be expecting some type of ancillary event or tournament.

Even the Olympics seem to be mellowing in their stance on esports. While IOC President Thomas Bach continues in his stance that any version of esports much be based on real sports and not have violence,  the IOC recently announced that June of 2023 will bring the first-ever Olympic Esports Week. The event, which will be celebrated by the IOC in Singapore, will showcase the best of virtual sports – hybrid physical and simulated sports – with the four-day festival, including exhibiting the latest technologies, panel discussions, education sessions and show matches.

The highlight of the week will be the first in-person live finals of the Olympic Esports Series, a global virtual and simulated sports competition created in collaboration with the International Federations (IFs) which builds on the successes of last year’s Olympic Virtual Series. The 2021 series attracted over 250,000 participants from across 100 countries to take part in competitions in virtual and simulated sports including baseball, motorsport, cycling, rowing and sailing.

Bach is quoted by the IOC as saying, “The first Olympic Esports Week marks an important milestone in our ambition to support the growth of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement… It is a perfect opportunity to be partnering with Singapore, which has a history of supporting innovation in the Olympic Movement, hosting the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, so we are looking forward to working together closely.”

And, according to Host City News, the IOC president referred to the event as “another highlight of how we are opening new horizons and reaching new audiences with our values" and "the next major step for us to engage even deeper with the young generation."

Esports Insider notes, “Although details are slim, the Olympic Esports Week does show that the IOC has intentions to further explore the possibility of working more with esports in the future. There are currently no publicly announced plans for esports titles to be part of the Olympics, though the fact the Committee is exploring ways to connect with gamers and esports fans is encouraging.”

Esports continues to take baby steps toward its endgame of being in the Olympics – even if those Olympics are nearly a decade away. An article published in May in Inside The Games stated, “There has also been speculation in Australia that esports could feature at Brisbane 2032 - a possibility IOC Coordination Commission chair Kirsty Coventry has appeared to entertain this week.”

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