The use of technology during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to significant speculation about its role in the Post Covid-19 “New Normal”. Will we spend more time working from home? Will more doctor’s appointments be held remotely?
On a lighter note, will it lead to electronic sports, or Esports, being introduced into the Olympic Games?
The impact of Esports should not be under-estimated. The most successful electronic gamer, Johan Sundstein, has won almost $7m in prize money. Nowhere near golfer Rory McIroy’s $52m or Andy Murray’s $62m, but still very sizeable. The 2019 World Championship finals of one of the most popular Esports, League of Legends, had almost 100 million unique viewers, which compares favourably with the 102 million viewers of American Football’s 2020 Super Bowl.
There have been some “false starts” in the past. A number of Esports were contested as demonstration sports at the 2018 Asian Games, but none are planned for the 2022 Asian Games. Esports games are also considered by many to be too violent, although it is worth noting that the five events of the Modern Pentathlon are intended to simulate the experience of a 19th-century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: riding an unfamiliar horse, fighting enemies with pistol and sword, swimming, and running to return to his own soldiers.
However, the ability to hold a championship without the need for participants or spectators to travel may lead to a rethink. So might the fact that 4.8 million UK viewers were prepared to watch Potters Corner win a “virtual” version of the Grand National in April, while only 2.3 million watched Serpentine win the “real” Derby at Epsom on 4 July.
Esports will not feature at the 2024 Paris Olympics, although breakdancing will, but who knows what may happen at Los Angeles in 2028?