Esports in Asian Games 2022: Indian government confirms that it has not recognized any federation

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently announced the creation of the “Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) task force” in the 2022-23 Budget. Let's check what we know about the esports event in the 19th Asian Games in 2022.

The government of India has just clarified that it has not recognized any of the existing esports and gaming federations present in the country to govern and oversee the activities. Anurag Singh Thakur, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports confirmed this while responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha. The topic came around when Ms. Sushmita Devi inquired about the work that the government had done around the participation of India in the E-Sports category in the upcoming Asian Games 2022.

As part of question 315, Ms. Devi inquired about several aspects of potential participation in the category. This comes just days after the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman announced the creation of the “Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics (AVGC) task force” as part of the 2022-23 Budget speech. This task force will make “domestic capacity” that can cater to both the global as well as domestic demand. Just hours after the budget speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi doubled down on the importance of innovation in domestic gaming development.

Indian Government has not recognized any existing Esports Federation for Asian Games

As part of the questions in Rajya Sabha, Ms. Devi inquired if the government was aware of “e-Sports” as a medal event in the 2022 Asian games. The five-part question went on to ask if India was going to take part in this division considering the “booming e-Sports scenario.” It also inquired about the provisions that the government had done around offering any “training facilities,” if yes then which governmental organization will “oversee” the training. The question concluded by asking the steps the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will take in case of lack of any overseeing committee.

Mr. Anurag Thakur shared responses to all five parts of the question during the Rajya Sabha session. He started by acknowledging that the government knew about “E-sports” as a medal sport in Asian Games 2022. As part of the response, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) stated that it received an “Entry By Number” form "from the Organizing Committee of Asian Games 2022”. IOA has already processed the form and shared it back with the committee.

The responses went on to state that National Sports Federation (NSF) is responsible for the promotion, development, and training of “specific sports discipline.” Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry simply “supplements” the work done by the NSF through any financial help and more to the recognized federations.

As part of the response, the ministry confirmed that it has not recognized any current federations or associations for “e-sports.” Currently, there are multiple organizations that exist in the country including the Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI), E-sports India (EI), E-sports Development Association of India (EDAI), Federation of Electronic Sports Associations of India (FEAI), and more. From the lot, ESFI is a member of the International Esports Federation, Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), and the Global Esports Federation (GEF). It also identifies itself as “the national governing body for all esports in India.” Though this is not the first time the government has addressed questions around esports in the parliament. However, it is the first time the government has confirmed that India will compete in the medaled event for esports.