IOC considering Japan as host of 2026 Olympic Esports Games

IOC considering Japan as host of 2026 Olympic Esports Games

2 January 2024

If you’re a regular follower of our international esports news, you will know by now that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its intentions last year to organize the very first Olympic Esports Games in the foreseeable future. “With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will not cross," said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, at the time, "Our crystal-clear position is gaining more and more respect also in the esports community”. The creation of new commission focused on international esports, called the IOC Esports Commission, around the same time only reinforced the IOC’s intentions.

The same can be said for the rumors currently doing the rounds in regard to the IOC’s preference in terms of a host for the first Olympic Esports Games. The first edition of the event is set to be held in 2026 and according to sources familiar with the matter, the Committee sees Japan as the ideal host. Talks about the topic are expected to be ramped up over the course of this new year.

Following Olympics Esports Series

The very first edition of the Olympic Esports Games are set to build on the Olympic Virtual Series that were held online in 2021, as well as the following Olympic Esports Series that were organized in June 2023. The latter event featured ten events consisting of both digital and hybrid sport simulations, including Tennis Clash (by Wildlife Studios), Virtual Regatta (by Virtual Regatta SAS) and Gran Turismo (by Polyphony Digital), and served as a kind of test case for the all-out Olympic Esports Games that are planned to take place in 2026.

Asian Games 2026

The Olympic Esports Games, while highly anticipated, won’t be the first major international esports event to take place in Japan in 2026. From September 19th to October 4th, the Japanese cities of Aichi and Nagoya will be hosting the Asian Games 2026, and esports will be part of the official program for the first time in the event’s history. The Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games Organizing Committee (AINAGOC) announced that last summer, when they announced the addition of no less than nine new sports to the calendar.

“The decision and announcement by both the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games Organizing Committee (AINAGOC) to include esports as a medal event at the 20th Asian Games, subsequent to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, is warmly embraced by ESFI”, said Lokesh Suji, Vice President of the AESF (Asian Esports Federation), at the time, “With this announcement, it becomes crucial for us to expedite the development of our infrastructure, education programs, training facilities, and overall awareness within the esports ecosystem. Additionally, it is imperative that we provide our athletes with top-notch equipment and resources, empowering them to deliver their best performances on international stages. We encourage the entire nation to embrace this remarkable development”.