Asian group lobbies for inclusion of esports in Vietnam SEA Games

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    THE Philippine Olympic Committee has found an ally in the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), which called on its member federations to lobby for the inclusion of esports as a medal sport in next year’s Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.

    AESF Director General Sebastian Lau on Wednesday wrote National Electronic Sports Federation of the Philippines (NESFP) president Ramon Suzara about the continental federation’s intense bid for esports’ inclusion in the Vietnam Games set from November 21 to December 2 next year.

    “I am writing this letter to seek your support in driving our Olympic collaboration agenda for the upcoming 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi,” Lau wrote. “We found out the news that Vietnam has not included esports as one of the official games, and currently it is in a process where the participating counties send an (appeal) letter to the hosting country Vietnam.”

    Vietnam organizers said they are hosting no more than 36 sports—from an initial 46—because their SEA Games budget was cut almost in half due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Esports was one of the sports that didn’t survive the cut.

    The NESFP is the only esports association in the country that is recognized and certified by the AESF and the Global Esports Federation.

    Earlier this week, POC President Rep. Abraham Tolentino said he would lead a lobby among the other SEA Games member countries to convince Vietnam to reconsider esports.

    “The AESF would like our federations in Southeast Asia to be united and support the Olympic collaboration agenda,” Lau said. “To further support our unification, we would like to encourage you to advocate the inclusion of esports as a medal event at the 2021 SEA Games in Hanoi.”

    “This lobby from the AESF is a welcome development for esports,” Suzara said. “All SEA Games countries have already adopted esports and they would want the sport to be played in Vietnam next year.”

    Esports has risen by leaps and bounds that the International Olympic Committee agreed for its inclusion as a demonstration sport in the 2021 Paris Olympics. Indonesia included esports as a demonstration sport when it hosted the 18th Asian Games in 2018.

    The Philippines made esports a medal sport during the 30th SEA Games last December, winning three of the six gold medals at stake. Thailand clinched two gold medals and Malaysia one, while Vietnam settled for three bronze medals.