The International Olympic Committee has taken the first step toward allowing competitive video game playing into the Olympics, NBC Sports reports. According to Reuters, the IOC released a statement Saturday after meeting in Switzerland stating that e-sports "could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports." It's a sign of progress for competitive video game playing after IOC president Thomas Bach previously said the committee was "not yet 100% clear whether e-sports is really sports."
The IOC has been eyeing e-sports as one possible way of getting young people invested in the Olympics, and the team behind the 2024 Paris Games had asked to discuss adding e-sports because "the youth are interested," the BBC reports. The chairman of Los Angeles' successful 2028 Olympic bid has also been high on e-sports. A decision on bringing video games to the Olympics won't be made until after the 2020 Games in Tokyo. In order for it to happen, e-sports would have to be recognized as an official Olympic sport, conform to Olympic values, and create a governing body to make sure it follows Olympic rules regarding doping, gambling, and more. Competitive video game playing brought in more than $525 million in revenue in 2016 and is expected to have a global audience exceeding 385 million people this year.