For the first time in history, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is looking ahead to the future of Esports with the instalment of a new Esports Commission. This represents the latest step in supporting the development of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement. The new Commission will be chaired by IOC Member, David Lappartient, who led the IOC Esports Liaison Group until the definition of this entity.
Lappartient will be joined by notable sports and government figures, such as Olympic medallist BMX racer Sarah Walker and Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski, as well as FIA CEO Natalie Robyn. The CEO and Secretary General of Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Abdulaziz Baeshen will also join the Commission. On the Esports side of the lineup, G2 Esports CEO Alban Dechelotte and Ubisoft’s Senior Director of Global Competitive Gaming Zeynep Gencaga have been named as members. They will be accompanied by Konami’s Manager of Global Business Development Shinji Namekawa, TikTok’s Head of Gaming and Esports Harish Sarma and Esports and sports psychologist Mia Stellberg.
IOC Commissions vary in size and field of expertise, and serve as advisory bodies to the President of the IOC, the IOC Session or the IOC Executive board. The Commissions usually focus on a certain topic, on an upcoming event or on a general field like the Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Commission.
The potential to engage new audiences
Virtual and simulated sports have become an increasingly important part of the sporting landscape in recent years. The IOC has already been exploring this potential through initiatives such as the Olympic Esports Week, which was held for the first time in Singapore on June 23-25th, 2023, and the Olympic Esports Series, which invited both professional and amateur players from across the world to compete in virtual sports competitions.
Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, declared: “We believe that virtual sports have the potential to complement and enhance the traditional Olympic sports, and that they can provide new opportunities for athletes and fans to participate in the Olympic Movement. We also consider that virtual sports can help to promote the values of excellence, friendship and respect that are at the heart of the Olympic Games, and that they can inspire young people around the world to get involved in sports and to lead active and healthy lifestyles.”
Gender equality across IOC Commissions
The IOC Commissions play a vital role in the organisation’s work, focusing on specific subject areas and making recommendations to the IOC President, the Executive Board and the IOC Session. The composition of each commission includes IOC Members and a range of external experts.
President Bach once again maintained gender equality across the Commission positions for 2023, highlighting the organization’s efforts to foster gender equality and inclusion throughout the sports movement. The IOC continues to lead by example in regard to corporate citizenship, which was one of the key recommendations of its strategic roadmap, Olympic Agenda 2020+5.
Of the 583 positions on the IOC Commissions, 287 are occupied by men and 296 by women. This represents a substantial increase in female representation since 2013, when only 20% of Commission positions were held by women.
Almost all of the already existing IOC Commissions will retain the same chairperson as last year, ensuring a consistent approach in fulfilling their mandates. 14 chairs of the 33 commissions are female, which makes it 42.42%.
The only recent changes were the appointments of IOC Member Karl Stoss as Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Olympic Winter Games and of IOC Executive Board member Kristin Kloster as the Chair of the Coordination Commission for the XXV Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, both replacing members who resigned from their position.
The President also appointed two additional independent members to the IOC Advisory Committee on Human Rights, to reinforce the expertise of the body in the field of business and human rights, namely Ms Rebeca Grynspan Mayufis (a Costa Rican economist who has been serving as Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development since 2021) and Ms Alexandra Guáqueta (a Colombian national who currently leads the global social impact and human rights function at a multinational consultancy firm that focuses on sustainability).
The next IOC Commissions Week, which sees all the IOC Commissions meet to discuss their specific subject areas, will be held remotely in November.