Kuwait City, Kuwait, May 24, 2022: The world and Asia’s top esports officials paid tribute to the “forward-thinking” Olympic Council of Asia for having the vision to include electronic sports as a medal sport in a number of multi-sports Games in the region, including the ongoing GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Games Kuwait 2022.
President of the International Esports Federation (IESF) Vlad Marinescu, an interested observer in the esports competition at the 3rd Gulf Games, congratulated the OCA on being “the first international sporting movement to take into account the increasingly young demographic of fans around the world” by introducing esports into their Games.
Apart from being a medal sport at the Gulf Games, esports has also been a medal sport at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, Philippines, and the just-concluded SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. It will also be a medal sport at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
“The OCA is a forward-thinking body and all credit to them. They have included esports in their multi-sports Games for a long time now and they must be applauded,” Marinescu pointed out.
Sebastian Lau, General Director of Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), echoed these sentiments on the side-lines of the esports competition at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel.
“We have worked in close collaboration with the Olympic Council of Asia for more than 10 years. It was as long back as 2012, that the OCA saw the potential of esports and how popular it can be among younger fans. Today it is a medal sport in a number of Games held under the umbrella of the OCA and all credit to them,” Lau noted.
At the last count, there were more than 300 million esports enthusiasts in Asia, accounting for 70 per cent of the world’s gamers. And the Gulf region, due to high-quality connectivity, was one of the fastest growing areas in Asia.
The AESF General Director also lauded Saudi Arabian girl Najd Fahd on becoming the first woman to win a gold medal for the Saudis at the Gulf Games. She won the FIFA title.
“It couldn’t have been scripted any better, Saudi Arabia’s first gold medal by a woman coming in esports. This goes to show how far and widespread the popularity of esports is. We congratulate her and Saudi Arabia,” Lau said.
Lau also revealed that despite the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games being postponed to next year, the qualifying process would continue unabated.
The Road to Asian Games 2022 started in April with national team selections. This will continue until the end of this month. This will be followed by regionals, from June to July, which at the moment will be done online.
“Depending on the pandemic situation, we will for the moment have the regionals also online, and if things improve, then we can come together for qualifiers. It is a pity that the Asian Games has been postponed, but as far as esports is concerned, the show goes on,” Lau added.