CULTURE F1 sees esports as an Olympic opportunity

CULTURE

F1 sees esports as an Olympic opportunity

CGTN

02:22, September 07, 2018

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(Photo: CGTN)

Formula One is eyeing an Olympics-style outing for esports.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year recognized esports as a sports activity and FI seems keen to seize the opportunity. 

Sean Bratches, F1's commercial operations managing director, said recently that he had written to IOC President Thomas Bach after the German indicated "non-shooter game" esports could be admitted to the Olympics.

F1 already has its own esports series with nine of the ten actual racing teams – all but Ferrari – involved in a virtual world championship that drew 63,000 hopefuls on its debut 2017 season.

Some F1 drivers are also active in the virtual world while gamers have been hired as simulator drivers to help the real track racers.

Bratches, credited as one of ESPN's most influential leaders with over 27 years of experience, joined F1 in January last year. The American felt the IOC is still taking stock and one possibility could be "an independent standalone eSport Olympics that is not attached from a date standpoint to the Olympic Games themselves."

"I said this is what we're doing, we're reimagining the Formula One brand, we're pushing into new spaces that have not hitherto been touched and I'd like to have a conversation with you about F1," said Bratches.

"I extolled all the benefits of it and the fact that our (virtual) drivers actually do the same thing as athletes do," he added.

Ever since the IOC recognized esports as a sports activity last year, esports became a demonstration event during the recent Asian Games in Indonesia. Medals will be officially awarded during the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China.

There have also been talks with organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics about the possibility of esports featuring as a demonstration event.

F1's governing body, the FIA, is a member of the Olympic body's Association of Recognized International Sports Federations and is also keen on closer ties.

As part of that, electric karting will be demonstrated on the sidelines of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October.

McLaren team boss Zak Brown said, however, that esports were "new grassroots" activities with plenty of crossover with the real world.

"I think it's a great way to put a steering wheel in the hand of a young person, male or female around the world who all want to drive," he said.

"I think eSports would be broader, bigger and more global. Electric karts is still a limited audience."

Bratches, who is also close to Casey Wasserman, president of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic bid and organizing committee, said, "It could be an interesting exercise for us to engage with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles."

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