IOC to hold esports exploratory forum next month

Canda's Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn, left, competes against Finland's Joona "Serral" Sotala in the StarCraft II Intel Extreme Masters pre-Winter Olympics event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last year. Blizzard Entertainment

The International Olympic Committee, in partnership with the Global Association of International Sports Federation, announced on Tuesday a forum next month at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the goal of exploring esports opportunities and the Olympic movement.

The July 21 forum will feature representatives from all levels of esports leadership including Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent, Blizzard founder Mike Morhaime, OWL commish Nate Nanzer and Twitch head of esports Justin Dellario, as reported by SportsBusiness Daily.

"We understand that sport never stands still and the phenomenal growth of esports and gaming is part of its continuing evolution," GAISF President Patrick Baumann said in a statement. "The Esports Forum provides an important and extremely valuable opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of esports, their impact and likely future development, so that we can jointly consider the ways in which we may collaborate to the mutual benefit of all of sport in the years ahead."

On the agenda are panels on Twitch streaming, gender equality, a day in the life of an elite player, media and investment, among others.

The forum comes on the heels of October's Olympic Summit, which charged the Olympic Committee and GAIA with exploring the intersection of gaming and the Olympics. Just before the Pyeongchang Games last year, a StarCraft tournament at the Intel Extreme Masters was held with the goal of showing the IOC how an esports event can be run.

The IOC has long sought to explore competitions in which younger people are interested, with the inclusion of BMX, snowboarding and freestyle skiing to name a few. Skateboarding and surfing will be test events at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

At the Asian Games in August, esports will be a test event with six video games, marking the first time esports has been featured at a major international athletic competition.