E-Sports: Asian Games months away, Govt says no national body recognised to train participants

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E-Sports has been included as a medal event in the upcoming Asian Games, 2022 comprising of 24 medals. The 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China scheduled for September 2022. As per a press release by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Asian Games will have eight medal events, plus two demonstration games in the e-sports category. This is the second time that a multi-sport event will feature e-sports as a medal event. Earlier, the 2019 South East Asian Games featured e-Sports as a medal event.

A Virtual Olympic Series was held as a non-metal event at Tokyo Olympics, this year. There are discussions of making e-Sports a medal in the upcoming Olympics as early as the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games. E-Sports at this point have no global governing body, which the IOC requires for approval.

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In this background, Smt. Sushmita Dev, TMC MP in Rajya Sabha has asked the government if any official training facilities are offered for E-Sports by the Union Government. The question was posed as an unstarred question meaning the government is required to respond in a written format.

Shri. Anurag Thakur, the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports responded to the queries, He informed the upper house that entires of participants from India in the Asian Games have been sent by the Indian Olympic Association to the organising committee. The minister did not elaborate on whether E-Sports participants were included or not.

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On the aspect of the training, the government said training is offered by concerned National Sports Federation of a particular sport. At present, no federation or association is recognized by the government for E-Sports.

Earlier E-Sports Federation of India (ESFI) sought government recognition for the sports. “Finally, we are here with esports at the Asian Games 2022. Eight esports titles mean 24 medals. For titles like Hearthstone; EA FIFA, DOTA2, League of Legends, Street Fighter, we have very strong chances of winning medals for India. Tirth Mehta, who got a bronze medal last time (2018), will be able to convert that bronze to gold this time. We will soon launch the “Road to Asian Games” program in line with AESF, to identify the best of the talent and train them for the main event at Hangzhou,” ESFI said earlier in a press release.

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It is not clear if EFSI has sought recognition as a National Sports Federation for E-Sports. We have approached EFSI for their comments on the issue and shall update this report accordingly. On December 14, the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Mr. Anurag Thakur in Lok Sabha said that the government has no proposal to designate any agency to regulate fantasy sports in India. The Minister was responding to a starred question posed by fellow BJP legislator Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal. A few days back, the Union Ministry of Education had issued an advisory to parents and teachers on safe online gaming.