The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced that it is ready to recognize esports as an official sport in the country. Along with this decision, the IOA will also acknowledge the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) as the governing body for esports in the country.
The legitimacy of esports in India has been a topic of debate ever since the industry started growing tremendously. On February 4, 2021, the Indian Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiran Rijiju, highlighted the legitimacy of esports in the parliament. During the discussion, Rijiju explained that esports was an emerging platform among the younger population of the country. He also argued that esports was different from gambling as it is a skill-based sport.
Over the years, the Indian esports community’s growth has been hard to ignore. With several esports enthusiasts in the country, many were keen for it to be officially recognized as a sport by the government. Just a few weeks back, the hashtag ‘#recognizeesportsinindia’ started trending on Twitter. This movement sparked the government’s interest and they assured that they will look into the matter. IOA’s announcement seems like a promise fulfilled.
The esports industry can look forward to a lot in the next few years. The Asian Games 2022 also announced that esports will now be recognized as an official sport. The previous Asian Games held in 2018, included esports as a demonstrative sport in which Indian player Tirth Mehta won the bronze medal for the digital card-based game called Hearthstone. Indian players have also displayed their skills in games like PUBG, Counter-Strike and Valorant on the global stage which means that there is potential for more talented gamers like Mehta to rise up and win medals for the country. The team selection process for the upcoming Asian Games will also be handed over to the ESFI.