To the joy of many, esports will be a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. As announced by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) on their website, medals won in the esports category will be counted into the overall tally in the medal standings.
In the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, esports made its debut at the Asian Games. However, back then, it was part of the ‘Demonstration Games’ where whilst medals were given away, they did not contribute to the winning country’s official medal count.
AESF has been very active in pushing for esports’ inclusion in major sporting events, starting with the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. It was then followed by esports’ first foray at the Asian Games in 2018.
In 2019, the Manila SEA Games made history as for the first time ever, esports was included as an official sport in a regional multi-sports event. Next year, esports will again be part of the festivities at the 2021 SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam , and the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Chonburi, Thailand.
This announcement came swiftly following the 39th OCA General Assembly. Conducted online due to the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the main talking points focused on the growing trend and influence of esports. The AESF was represented by their President, Mr Kenneth Fok, and Director General, Mr Sebastian Lau.
‘This achievement is the result of several years of collective effort involving not only the AESF but also the unyielding support from the Olympic Council of Asia, AESF member associates, local organizing committees and other collaborative partners. For that, we are forever grateful.’ said AESF on their website.
Also welcoming the news was Mr. Haider A H E Farman, OCA Director of Sport who said “It would be a great honor for everybody to have (the esports community) participate in the games as players and technical officials. I hope that esports would add value – and I am sure it will for the Asian Games 2022 and beyond that”
This is great news for esports-strong countries as it provides another avenue to rack up medals as based on past events, there could be as many as six different new events added.