Esports has been confirmed as a medal sport in the 2026 Asian Games Aichi-Nagoya, according to the Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games Organising Committee (AINAGOC). This marks the inclusion of esports among nine newly added sports for the forthcoming games.
As esports aims to make a full-fledged debut, it will also be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. India will compete in four titles: DOTA 2, FIFA 22, Street Fighter V, and League of Legends.
The inclusion of esports in the Asian Games will provide Indian gamers with a platform to showcase their skills and compete for medals. This will inspire a new generation of Indian esports athletes to not only pursue their passion professionally but also head back home victorious.
Lokesh Suji, director of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), and the vice president of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) said, “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.”
Esports goes mainstream
According to a recent Windows of Opportunity report, the number of esports players in India is growing rapidly, from 600,000 in 2021 to 1 million in 2022 and is expected to reach 2.5 million this year. The number of international esports teams in India is also expected to grow from seven in 2022 to 10 in 2023.
Animesh Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of 8Bit Creatives & S8UL Esports said, “The official recognition of esports as a medal sport further enhances and elevates the standing of esports athletes, placing them on par with mainstream sports personalities. We are optimistic that in the Asian Games 2026, our team S8ul and 8bit, will have the opportunity to participate and showcase their skills in several esports titles.
Rohit Agarwal, Founder and Director at Alpha Zegus said, “One small step for esports, one giant leap for the gaming industry! Esports’ inclusion as a medal sport is not only good news in itself, but it also paves the way for other similar tournaments to recognise esports as an important avenue. I hope this trajectory continues upwards, and we are able to eventually see esports at a scale similar to traditional sports.”
Following the success of its collaboration with the HAGOC for the 19th Asian Games, AESF will continue to work with the AINAGOC and local counterparts to ensure a successful esports program at the 20th Asian Games.