SNOC’s Chris Chan to head global e-sports body
Global E-Sports Federation to reach out to stakeholders involved in e-sports
A global governing body for e-sports was yesterday launched at the JW Marriott Hotel, hoping to marry the fast-growing modern sport, with Olympic values often tied to traditional ones.
To that end, the Global E-Sports Federation (GEF) will be helmed by Singapore National Olympic Council secretary-general Chris Chan, who is its president.
One of three GEF vice-presidents, Charmaine Crooks, is a former athlete who represented Canada at the Olympics, winning a 4x400m relay silver medal in Los Angeles in 1984.
The other two vice-presidents are Wei Jizhong, who is an honorary life vice-president on the Olympic Council of Asia, and Edward Cheng, the vice-president of Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent, who are also GEF's global founding partner.
Describing e-sports as "misunderstood", Chan noted that the GEF is not the first organisation trying to lead e-sports globally.
The International E-sports Federation (IESF), started in 2008 and based in South Korea, is one. Led by Colin Webster, a South African, its mission is to have electronic sports recognised as a legitimate sport, and lists on its website 56 nations as member nations.
But Chan added: "We don't claim to be the (definitive) e-sports federation.
"For a start, we want to reach out to all the stakeholders involved in e-sports and hope to work with everybody to bring some recognition and legitimacy to the sport.
"We're here to galvanise the sport, and how better to do it than with a major player in Tencent, who have been involved in the industry in the last nine years."
Last year, Fortune reported Tencent as being the fifth-most valuable brand in the world with a value of US$179 billion (S$242b) - behind only Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.
Said Cheng: "With our collective effort, I believe e-sports will unleash the unlimited possibilities of sports in the digital age.
"On the path to building a community with a shared future for mankind, e-sports will shine."
At yesterday's launch, the GEF said its vision was to be "the voice and authority for the worldwide e-sports movement". It also laid out five key objectives, namely:
Encourage and support the establishment of national e-sports federations with a set of relevant standards, guidelines and regulations.
Establish an athlete commission, with a focus on athlete well-being, development of standards for fair play, career support, and education to ensure safe, doping-free, and ethically-compliant practices.
Convene and stage e-sports competitions, conventions, fora, and development programmes.
Development of world-class governance structures and guidelines for the GEF, and
Create, develop and stage the annual flagship Global E-Sport Games, with the first Games to be staged at the end of next year.
Chan declined to name the candidate cities, although he hinted China was a front-runner for the inaugural Global E-Sport Games, and that Singapore will not host the event.
The establishment of GEF is timely.
E-sports made its debut as a fully fledged medal discipline at the recent SEA Games, the first time it has been included at an Olympic-recognised, multi-sport competition.
It was also included at last year's Asian Games in Indonesia, but only as a demonstration event, and has been dropped from the 2022 roster.
Last year, the International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations held a forum about e-sports and the Olympics. It was meant to kick start a dialogue and future engagement between the Olympic movement and the e-sports and gaming industry, which is expected to have a worldwide audience of 450 million and bring in US$1b in revenue this year.
Yip Ren Kai, a former national water polo player who is co-founder of Reddentes Sports, a sports marketing agency that has made in-roads into e-sports, said: "E-sports has started to make its way into the mainstream already, although there is still some way to go to gain the buy-in from the traditional (sport) industry players.
"This alignment with (the Olympic movement and its values) will bring it to the next level, and that's something that is definitely welcome."