Gamers Without Borders’ online sport events break new ground

2020 is the year of reshaping and amending not only sports governance, but also activities in all walks of life

  
Members of Thailand's E-sports national team practice during a training session at a studio in Bangkok, Thailand, August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Members of Thailand's E-sports national team practice during a training session at a studio in Bangkok, Thailand, August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

People were relieved to return to their normal routines and lifestyles after Saudi Arabia lifted coronavirus restrictions on Sunday, while following government health and safety measures.

However, they will need to adjust to new habits and skills acquired during the quarantine.

While many sports events and competitions were canceled, it seems electronic sports were the first to adjust, with the category running in its own comfortable zone.

For example, COVID-19 e-sports fundraiser “Gamers Without Borders” broke new ground for gaming after uniting 120,000 gamers online from 72 countries — in just four weeks.

The fund raising event, organized by the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, has seen $6.5 million of its $10 million charity prize fund already donated to global charities tackling the pandemic.

This success is also a wake-up call for other sports to be creative while keeping their programs and activities running.

Many things will change the nature of how work is being done. It is hard to go back and fix things that were kept on hold, but it won’t be hard to adopt and utilize new technologies to make up for what was missed. The pandemic already prepared everyone — the young, adults and the elderly — to develop their skills in using technologies to move on in life and stay in touch.

According to the World Economic Forum, sports fixtures around the world are set to resume after the coronavirus lockdown — but without fans in the stadiums.

To recreate the atmosphere for both players and spectators, a new app that relays fans’ applause, cheers and chants into the stadium was tested in May at the 50,000-seat Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Japan. The Yamaha app was connected to 58 speakers around the stadium to replicate the atmosphere of a standard match.

Another event, the 2020 Virtual Grand Prix, was put together in only five days, according to Paul Kent, head of e-sports and competitive gaming at Gfinity, a UK firm that hosts e-sports events and worked with Formula One on this year’s races, according to the MIT Technology Review.

The International Olympic Committee also used technology to hold the world’s biggest online workout on Olympic Day for 24 hours, with 23 Olympians joining in from around the world.

Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) President Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal encouraged youth around the Kingdom to be creative and take part in the Olympic Day hashtag, both in Arabic and English.

As part of a return to normal activities, the SAOC held its first monthly conference, focusing on sport governance.

Speakers included Jerome Poivey, head of institutional relations and governance at the International Olympic Committee; and Donald Rukare, advocate at the High Court of Uganda and secretary general of the Uganda Olympic Committee.

Both speakers highlighted the importance of technology to speed up processes affected by the pandemic.

They also encouraged a reshaping of former guidelines to fit today’s needs. Rukare pointed out the importance of being able to make important decisions and hold elections online.

It seems 2020 is the year of reshaping and amending not only sports governance, but also activities in all walks of life.

Rules and regulations are created to help, but if they are no longer beneficial, then they require updates to accommodate today’s essentials and help enhance the system. Being creative is also a key element in understanding the tasks and addressing them accordingly.

• Dr. Razan Baker is a director of international communication at the Saudi Olympic Committee, a specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports, and a sports columnist/journalist. Twitter: @RazanBaker

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