IOC President Thomas Bach will be among the attendees at the esports forum ©IOC

Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) President Patrick Baumann has claimed esports can be helpful to the development of traditional sports rather than a hindrance, as the organisation prepares to host a forum on the topic with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

GAISF and the IOC are holding a forum at the Olympic Museum here tomorrow to discuss "engagement" between the Olympic and esports communities.

A possible pathway or timeline for esports' inclusion in the Olympics is not on the agenda but the fact GAISF and the IOC are holding a forum on the discipline suggests this is a long-term goal.

Baumann, an IOC member, said the lack of one recognised International Federation (IF) for esports, concerns within the esports world over the addiction of gaming and the role of "fighter" games as challenges which will be discussed during the forum.

The Swiss official dismissed concerns over esports stopping people from actively participating in sport following IOC President Thomas Bach's infamous "getting couch potatoes off the couch" quote.

He also claimed top-level esports competitors were "as fit as any other athletes you would find during the Olympic Games or a World Championship".

"I am not concerned that esports is draining on the physical activities of traditional sports," Baumann told insidethegames.

"Esports is not a competitor to sport, this is about complimenting it and this is probably truer than we might think.

"There is evidence that it can be quite helpful to traditional sports to develop alongside esports.

"There is a debate going on in every country about what is esports and there are a lot of discussions on this.

"We are in the same kind of mindset; studying it and seeing what it is all about.

"It will be a combined effort to see how this can be channeled in the right way so we avoid the abuses, we avoid the coach potatoes as much as possible and we take advantage of working together because digitalisation of all our activities is going to continue to become even more important."

IOC President Thomas Bach will be interviewed by professional player Jake Lyon, left ©IOC
IOC President Thomas Bach will be interviewed by professional player Jake Lyon, left ©IOC

The forum, to be hosted by retired National Basketball Association player and esports franchise owner Rick Fox, is due to be attended by Bach and various representatives from stakeholders in esports.

Bach is scheduled to be interviewed by professional esports player Jake Lyon during the forum, which will also include a series of panel discussions and roundtables on topics including governance, athlete perspective and the world of esports in general.

"We need to understand whether esports can be organised or categorised in the same way as IFs currently are," Baumann added.

"Esport does not seem to be related to one particular sport so we have to tackle that.

"We also have to look at all the other parts of the esports environment which we are less confronted with and where we might also have more questions to address to the community, such as the fighting games, the shooting games and the multiple operator battle arena games.

"Having one IF is a real question mark.

"There is still a large amount of stakeholders within the world of esport which we have to keep in mind and decide which ones should be the right partners for the sports movement to work with and maybe we will have a clearer idea after the forum on this particular question."