The inaugural Cybersport 2024 Games of the Future will be hosted by the Russian sports capital city of Kazan between February 21st and March 2nd this year. It is an international multi-sport tournament in the digital for- mat and the pinnacle of phygital sports worldwide: bringing the world a new generation of phygital sporting heroes: accomplished athletes showcasing their superior skills across both physical and digital competitions. The Games combine traditional sports and E-Sports. Sports observers say this is the first implementation of such a concept in the history of world sports. Organisers of the Games say the E-Sports is set to be held in new disciplines using modern technology, digital environments and physical activity.
Robotics, augment- ed and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are all set to be used at the games which are due to have an overall prize pool of $25 million. ‘’More than 260 teams from all over the world will take part,’’ the Organising Committee member, Anita Kara, reportedly said. “We have tested the digital formats of football, basketball, martial arts, racing, and Beat Saber.” About 2,000 participants will reportedly take part in this tournament, designed to use cutting- edge developments in cybersports. All will compete for the title of the best in 21 digital disciplines. It is expected that African countries including Nigeria will participate in this new independent competition, particularly in the digital (virtual) and trado- digital tournaments.
The number of digital gamers in Africa has more than doubled over the past five years and the gaming industry is growing in all aspects. A 2021 study commissioned by New- zoo, a games analytics company and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, shows that the number of gamers in sub- Saharan Africa has risen to 186 million people from 77 million in 2015.According to studies by Carry1st, the sub-Saharan African gaming industry looks set to crack one billion dollars for the first time in 2024, and the forecast is for continued growth beyond. The mobile gaming market looks set to eclipse the PC, with ten times the level of engagement.
An initiative of Russia, Games of the Future does not fall under the jurisdiction of western-controlled international associations like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA). The short- comings of international sport and its often self-important, hard to dislodge administrators have politicized sports as a builder of unexpected bridges and a force for good. Israel recently faced issues in Indonesia with allowing their athletes to com- pete under their flag name and anthem. This is in response to the ongoing conflict with Palestine with Israel being accused of occupying parts of Palestine land.
Video Game developer, Electronic Arts (EA) did not include the Russian team or club sides in FIFA23 after removing them from the season’s title in response to the country’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine which began on February 24, 2022. The politicization of the IOC is creating cracks in the Olympic movement and is leading to the establishment of serious rivals to the Olympic Games. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) com- prising Russia, China, India and other Asian countries is warming up to have its own Games fiesta soon. Surely the prospect of the world’s most populous nations and emerging economic forces to take part in the event is enough to make the IOC uneasy. Sports analysts affirm that the western policy of imposing discriminatory approaches in high performance sports forced Indonesia to stage its own Games of Emerging Forces in 1963.
And propelled American television mogul, Ted Turner, to create the Goodwill Games in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s. It is against the backdrop of growing politics in sports that the presidents of Russia and China released a statement recently condemning western nations using sports for ‘’unseemly purposes.’’ There is no doubt that the upcoming Games of the Future E-Sports, according to the organisers, will evoke a response from millions of people and clearly demonstrate that one of the absolute priorities of the emerging multipolar world is the harmony of intelligence and physical perfection. And they aim to achieve three billion total views of the competition set to take place in Kazan.
Tijani writes from Yola