Patrick Baumann

Week 248 (14 - 20 July 2018)

On Saturday 21 July, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) will co-host an #EsportsForum in Lausanne. The event will provide a unique and exciting platform to develop a possible unity of purpose between leading figures from the #esports industry and representatives of the Olympic Movement.

The importance of the Olympic Movement exploring opportunities with esports was communicated eloquently this week by GAISF President Patrick Baumann in an exclusive feature with Olympic Movement publication sport intern.

Baumann, who is also an IOC Member and Secretary General of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), pointed out: “Sport never stands still. Sport remains truly dynamic and reflective of the way we live. Sport remains a mirror of society.”

This adaptable and reflective nature of sport is what keeps it up to date, irrepressibly popular and incredibly powerful. It seems that esports act as the latest example of sports ability to move with the times.

 “The GAISF-IOC Esports Forum is being held to better understand these developments and build joint understanding between esports and the Olympic Movement across all areas, including Olympic Values and structures. It sets a platform for joint engagement and aims to clarify the next, mutually beneficial, steps for cross-engagement.”

To put it simply, esports, short for "electronic sports", is a competitive approach to sport-related video gaming.

For Baumann, this exciting new sector within sport must not go unnoticed.

“Generations are growing up with computer games as part of their lives. (Y)our own children play and compete with their friends, sharing experience, skills and camaraderie. The industry which produces the games is not just technically and culturally sophisticated but huge – for some years now it has been consistently reported to be bigger than the movie industry.”

The potential of the esports industry is undeniable, and its growing popularity within society has meant that large sporting organisations just can’t ignore it. In fact, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced earlier this year that esports will be an official medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in China, in what is the boldest step yet towards mainstream recognition of competitive gaming.

Whilst Baumann was quick to point out that Saturday’s Forum does not represent the automatic opening of the door to the Olympic Games for esports, it is perhaps not long before the IOC follows the OCA’s lead.

Baumann’s leadership and clear communication around the #EsportsForum will ensure millions around the world give esports the attention it deserves. His forward-thinking attitude and ever-impressive dynamism makes him the JTA Communicator of the Week.

Photo: GAISF