In an indication that esports will certainly be a medal event during the Hangzhou Asian Games, the recognition given to the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is being seen as a “very positive step” ahead of the quadrennial games in September 2022.
The recognition drew applause from top sports administrators, with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud, whose country will host the 2034 Asian Games, welcoming the move.
“The partnership between AESF and the Olympic Council of Asia further legitimises esports globally and provides the athletes and the fans the support they deserve,” Prince Faisal Bin Bandar, who is the president of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), said.
The high-ranking Saudi sports official said that by making esports an official medal event, it will provide young athletes and esports enthusiasts with “sustainable career paths in the Olympic sphere”.
Prince Faisal Bin Bandar added that Saudi Arabia was extremely happy to be competing in the Hangzhou Asian Games and promised a successful 2034 Games, which will take place in Riyadh.
The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) director, Lokesh Suji, said that the move towards full medal status at the quadrennial continental event was a success for not only the Indian esports athletes and fans but the whole of Asia.
“We have finally reaped fruits with inclusion of esports as a medal sport in Asian Games 2022. That day is not far, when esports will be a medal sport in the Olympics too,” Suji was quoted as saying.
Among the countries that have played a key role in furthering the cause of esports in Asia are Indonesia, which hosted the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang where esports was featured as a demonstration event.
A year before being featured in Jakarta, esports was a demonstration sport at the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.